“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.”
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
This week the children return to school, and we find ourselves resuming the “busyness” of our church schedule. We find ourselves dealing with the worries and concerns of the Covid19 pandemic. At this time of year there is always a day or two when the sheer number of things which demand our attention threatens to overwhelm us. The temptation is to try to respond by working harder in the flesh as if the whole work of Christian mission is dependent upon us alone. Sometimes I find myself wondering just how God accomplished His work before I came along. Very quickly I am reminded that this way of thinking is in fact idolatry, and that I am called to repent of it right away. It seems however to creep up on me each year at this time.
It is when I am wrestling with this way of thinking that I am helped by passages such as those quoted above. Jesus tells His disciples, and us, that they, and we, can do nothing without His indwelling presence. James calls his readers, and us, to a lifestyle of patience on account of one supreme fact. This is that the Lord’s coming is near. Life is to be lived, decisions made, sin repented of, in the light of the Lord’s return because it is near. He is at the door. This is how believers are to face each day of their lives. Everything is changed by this one great fact.
For the work of ministry this means that everything needs to be done with an awareness of the Presence of the Lord. It is His work we are engaged in. Moses pleaded with the Lord that His Presence would go forward with the People of Israel. Can we do any less? James MacDonald in Vertical Church describes how people are brought to the Lord when there is a tangible awareness of His presence among us. This, under the sovereign will of our God, is what we must be seeking as we go forward in the work we are called to. The Church moves forward in mission as it walks with the Lord, being indwelt by His Presence. If He is not in our work, it may be impressive, but it will be of the flesh and will ultimately accomplish nothing.
For me this will require that I be seeking the Lord’s Presence in everything I do. Dependent intercessory prayer is our calling. In this praying, along with a prayerful meditation upon the Word of God, we are seeking to really know and walk with the Lord, so that He can do His work among us. This seems to have been the heartbeat of the New Testament church. It must be our heartbeat as well.