By: Rev. Chris Troxel, Associate Pastor of Christian Growth
We are in the growing season. Winter’s long hold seem broken at last, and colorful evidence of that increases as days go by. Let’s reflect on that as God continues to cultivate our faith and His church at the corner of Van Dyke and M-59. Three things come to mind when we consider growing: clarity, being rooted, and engaging in the moment and place we are given. Clarity is vital for growth so that right plants get the right things. Shade grass in a treeless yard? Not good. Getting rooted in the right things is also critical for growth. Trying to grow roots in a land void of nutrients? That too is a fruitless recipe. Engagement combines with clarity and growth that leads to any creature - plant or animal - thriving and producing more life. Explore each one a little closer.
If we want clarity, we need truth. Truth is great when it helps. Truth is harsh when it disrupts, and/or pummels. Let us face this discomfort we want to avoid, and search for kernels of truth despite how they are packaged. Truth usually reveals law and gospel: sin is real and potent; God is present and his power goes beyond our ideas, concepts, and dreams. Sin fractures faith, family, and friends. God gives, heals, restores, resurrects. That Law-and-Gospel work of God the Spirit in our faith and through The Word makes our hearts fertile fields for faith.
From Psalm 1: A person is blessed who thrills to God’s Word, who chews on Scripture day and night. Like a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Yet many of us struggle to muster up the desire to drink deeply from our source of faith! Pray for the Spirit to quickly cultivate desire for the Word of God in all of us, and to deepen that desire in those already engaged in it.
God never uses just one metaphor. A tree planted or a vine branch connected gives a good picture growing deep into the life and word of God. He uses other metaphors and stories to teach what we do in the life thoroughly cultivated, nurtured, and overflowing with the lavish love of God. He tells stories about servants. He uses pictures of plants (who are seemingly immobile) taking action (growing, producing).
God animates His creation.
His animating invitation comes to you in the words of in John 15:1-8, that sound boring at first glance. “Remain.” “Abide.” “Dwell.” When contemplating complacency or action, these verbs can engender more “mozy” than movement. However when comparing life or death, these words become a call and encouragement to embrace and embody the life God is already pumping through your veins and faith. In the interest of clarity, Jesus calls his disciples to remain/abide/dwell so that we can thrive. Jesus desires us to grow beyond what anyone considers possible. He calls and wants us to bear fruit, more fruit (v.2), much fruit (v.3, 8). This takes us back to the beginning. We can only produce produce if we are connected to him, if we remain, abide, and dwell in Him. May God allow us to do this together as His people in this place, at this time.