The Preacher (Qoheleth) reminds us that life still counts even in the midst of a pandemic. What we do now matters for eternity.
Eccl 11-12.mp3 (Mark Radke)
Here is a link to the livestream recording:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
At first glance this seems like an exaggeration. Surely we can do something, no? It might not be any good, or as good or worthwhile as it should be, but we aren’t that helpless, are we?
First, I would say that it i entirely possible that Jesus means it to be an exaggeration. He obviously wants us to abide in him. And he wants to abide in us. He wants our relationship to be intimate and life-giving. He wants our lives to bear much fruit as a result. So he is quite possibly not speaking in absolute terms. Possibly.
On the other hand, if we consider that our very life is in God’s hands, this statement takes on a more absolute coloring. We might well be encouraged to abide in Christ, because without him we truly can do nothing at all. If he so decided, our life might end this minute.
I’m reminded of the prophet Daniel’s words to Belshazzar in Daniel 5:23,
And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.
How shall we abide in Christ? Let’s start with cultivating a conscious experience of fellowship, frequent times of meditation on God’s word, and an attitude of humble trust in his all-good, all-loving Lordship. A moment of thanksgiving for his salvation is always appropriate. There will no doubt be a way to express outward obedience today. Keep an eye out for it – a good work that might not come naturally, but will clearly express the love of Christ.
Apart from him we can do nothing. Yet with him we can do all things.
These words that Jesus spoke to Jairus regarding his daughter can easily apply in any number of situations that we face. Here is how they appear in context.
35 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
The context in this case is vital to understanding what Jesus is saying.
Jairus came to Jesus as his daughter was dying, asking for help. Before they got home, however, the daughter had died. When all was lost, Jesus encouraged Jairus with the words, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” As it happened, Jesus raised her back to life.
Why does God so often wait until all hope is lost? Perhaps it is so we are more focused upon hoping in him. There is something spiritually healthy about being brought to the end of ourselves. Self-sufficiency can be an enormous obstacle to faith. Hope in anything or anyone but Jesus can redirect us away from trusting him.
When it is obvious that we cannot do anything to fix our situations, and neither can anyone else, God has the opportunity to intervene without interference. He must like that, because he puts us in that place of helplessness pretty often.
What hopeless situation are you facing right now? I am facing a few of them, but I won’t clutter this post with their tedious descriptions. Christ’s message to us might be the same as his message to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; only believe.”