It’s a good habit to get into to reflect on the many things to be thankful for in July. The freedoms many of us enjoy are not shared with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. So I am very grateful for the freedoms that my family and I enjoy and benefit from by living in the United States.
But one other thing that I am very grateful for is the freedom that being in Authentic Christian Community brings. This freedom to walk in the identity that God has given not just me, but all of us in a loving and authentic community. It is one of the things we emphasize for our students on our courses: how to live and grow in authentic community in the wilderness.
I am sure that many of you know this section of scripture about abiding:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 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. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. -John 15:1-11 ESV-
Jesus tells his disciples that when we abide with him and his words abide in us, we will bear much fruit and how much we are loved by both Jesus and the Father. But how does abiding in Christ give us freedom?
When we are in right relationship as a “branch” on the vine, we get all the benefits and resources from the “vine” (ie God the Father). When we have all those amazing resources, we are at peace, we can grow and thrive, we have intimate knowledge of our identity because it is being poured into us. This is the direct result of being attached and connected in authentic community to the vine! When we are connected, we have the freedom to be who we were created to be. We also have the freedom then to grow and walk in the destiny we have been called to by the “vine” or Jesus.
We have become so independent in the United States, that we have forgotten on some level that we were created to be relational and in relationships. Not just with God, but with each other too! There are other “branches” on the vine and we interact and grow with and around each other. When we are connected to the vine, we also have the freedom to love those around us well.
We have the freedom to do this, because of all the love and resources the vine is pouring into the branches. It is through this that Jesus says, “and that your joy may be full” or other translations say “complete.” Our joy is complete and absolutely full when we are abiding in the Father and in Jesus. Which gives us freedom from fear, despair, sadness, etc. It is this perfect joy and love that gives us this freedom!
And while we experience many amazing freedoms here in the United States, this freedom through abiding in Christ Jesus that frees every man, woman, and child around the world from bondage and it is His perfect love and joy that allows them to walk and thrive in that freedom. This freedom had a high price, and Jesus humbled Himself to pay it because of His love.
So I encourage you to not attempt to be a more independent “branch”, but rather to grow in co-dependence with Christ. For it is by His blood and stripes we are made free.
How you can be praying:
40/40 students & Instructors
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20/20 Teen boys students & instructors
10/10 Adult students & instructors
Houston Christian Academy custom course students & instructors
All of our Summer Support Staff