We have come to the fourth and final mental picture—a productive vine—another vivid analogy preserved for us in the Word of God. In fact, this one comes to us from the lips of Jesus as He left His disciples words of encouragement just before He was crucified. They have been recorded for us in the 15th chapter of John, a chapter that centres attention on three vital relationships the Christian must maintain.
Email. Internet. Video. Texting. Tablets. Smartphones. The list never ends, does it? As technology advances, real human connection becomes harder and harder. If we’re not careful, each new gadget can draw us further away from the family of believers God designed us to be.
If you want to experience a close community with other Christians, you must first escape the trap of superficiality and to develop tight bonds that will feed your soul and mature your spiritual family.
Studies in anatomy occupy the attention of every medical student in the world. Christians would do well to emulate students of medicine. Since we are members of His body, over which Christ serves as Head, understanding the body would give us a better understanding of the church—how it’s put together, how it functions, and how to respond when it malfunctions.
Far too many Christians have bought into the “pursue pleasure at all costs” philosophy. Marriages are breaking up at almost the same rate inside the Church as outside. Christian leaders often create just as much scandal as any movie star. And many churches no longer place holy living at the top of their priority list. But purity, as Paul explained in Romans 6, is a powerful alternative to our culture’s formula for living.
Itʼs a bit dismaying to realize that you’re going to be spending eternity with people in the family of God you don’t even speak with on earth! Quite frankly, when someone has wounded us with his or her sharp quills, it’s natural to want to keep our distance. But we do need each other, needles and all!
Just as a river without the boundaries of the shorelines can become a devastating force, love without discernment can sweep away the reality of sin and the power of grace. John’s letter to a lady and her children provides for us guidance as we seek to balance truth and love.
Let’s start living as good neighbours to the people God has placed in our paths. To help us begin doing that, let’s eavesdrop on a conversation held in the street back in the first century between a lawyer and the Lord.
If we take Solomon's counsel to heart, two are better than one, we learn how to survive lonely, desolate days.
How would you define hope? In what way would your definition apply to a local church? What if hope were missing from a congregation? Would anybody notice? We’ll think about these and other things as we allow Peter’s words to guide us into the truth about hope. These passages of Scripture suggest several ingredients that must be present if hope is to remain a vital part of a church’s life.
Christians are unwise when they remain out of touch and live in secrecy. Being responsible includes being accountable, not just to God but also to one another. If carried out in the power and under the control of the Holy Spirit, accountability can be one of the most secure and reassuring facets of our Christian experience.
Joshua's final speech can be summarized in three words: “choose for yourselves” (Joshua 24:15). These three words apply so perfectly to us today as we consider how to build congregational relationships. In the final analysis, we either will or will not pull together, grow deeper, and become a caring body of believers. It’s really up to each of us to choose whether or not to bond with other believers.