"In Harmony with Christ" - May 2nd, 2021
"And it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
"Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me, you can do nothing."
Pastor Michael's Sermon - Sunday, May 2nd, 2021
Two weeks ago, I was here at Church of the Valley to shoot our worship video. And one of the other people who was participating in the video said, to me, “You know, when I drove in today, I saw your car sitting in the parking lot and I thought to myself that really is the Kosik-mobile.” He said, “You know, you've had that car so long, I can't picture you driving another car.” Apparently in his mind, part of who I am is associated with my car.
There are many things in this world that we associate with other things.
Peanut butter and jelly. Salt and Pepper. Shoes and socks.
And then there are even things that we associate with something else that are almost useless without the other. Golf clubs are useless without golf balls. To use a can opener, you need a can. A door needs hinges. To use a phillips head screw, you need a phillips head screwdriver. A dart board needs a dart. Pen needs paper to write on. Paint needs a paintbrush. Knitting needles need yarn. The tire is useless without air. You can't use staples without a stapler. Your printer needs toner. Your sailboat needs sails. And a remote control needs a television. Which raises the question, why do I have so many remote controls for one television?
So it's pretty common for one thing to rely on another and for something to be
so associated with something else we can't imagine it standing alone.
In today's scripture, Christ invites us to abide in him. To abide means to act in accordance with. We are invited to act in harmony with Christ who already acts in harmony with us. He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches."
The branch cannot bear fruit by itself. They rely on one another. One does not exist without the other.
Christ is calling on us to create a relationship with him where one does not exist without the other, and furthermore saying, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
You know, we talk a lot about following Christ and when we think about following Christ, we think about him being our shepherd. Guiding us. Teaching us.
When we think about following Christ, we think about obeying him. Living by his message. Following the word. But I think his invitation to abide in him takes it a step farther. When we abide in Christ, we still follow him, but there is more to abide in. We make Christ a part of the essence of who we are. To abide in Christ, is to make him such an important part of our makeup that we are unrecognizable without him. When we abide in Christ, all we do is done through him.
Now, a further aspect of our abiding in Christ is that when we are acting in harmony with Christ, it is apparent to all of those around us. We've all known Christians like this. The Saints among us. Those Christians who are clearly walking in the light of christ. I spent 35 years of my life with someone like that. When we find someone who is abiding in Christ and fully aware that Christ abides in them,
we see Christ in all that they do. We see Christ in their decision-making. In the way they speak to others. In acts of kindness. We see Christ in all of their heart, all of their soul, in all of their mind.
When we come in contact with people like this, we believe that Christ is so much a part of them that we literally cannot separate the two. They abide in one another. This is what we must strive to achieve. Closeness to Christ that defines us. A closeness to Christ that defines us to others. A harmony with Christ that shows the world that without Christ, we can do nothing.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean to suggest that our relationship with Christ should be achieved to impress others, or to prove to the world how in harmony we are with Jesus. No, it is a much more personal relationship. It's just that when we are in perfect harmony, abiding in Christ, our relationship with him, our closeness to him, cannot help but define us to others.
There was a young woman on television not too long ago, and she was telling a story about how she had been kidnapped. And she had been taken by a man, and she was held against her will, and she had been abused for days and days. She was locked in a room with very little food, and her hands and her feet were painfully bound. The young woman talked about trying to keep hope. She was a woman of faith. She was a Christian woman. And the way that she said that she held on to her hope was through talking to Christ. She said that she spent most of her time talking to Christ and asking him to help her, which is something that I believe that most of us would do if we were in a similar situation.
But then she said something that not only surprised me, it also saddened me.
She said that the reason that she kept an ongoing conversation with Christ was because she felt like if she wasn't talking to him, he wasn't there. The young woman felt that somehow Christ would leave her if she wasn't physically speaking to him. This was very sad to me. We must never feel this way.
We must always understand that Christ abides within us, that Christ lives in harmony within us. He is our vine. We must remember to be his branches. Being his branches means that we depend on him for our survival. We rely on him for our strength. Being his branches means that he provides us with our life, which is the fruit of our existence.
Go out this week and walk in the light of Christ. Accept his invitation to abide within him and allow yourself to bear the fruit, knowing that without him, we could do nothing.
Let us pray.
Loving God, we thank you for your son. Help us to abide within him as we know he abides within us. And it's in his name we pray.