Summary: How would you describe your Christian life? Is it a life that is vibrant and exciting or a life that is tired and withering? If it is the latter, why? And if it is the former, be careful...
"ARE YOU WITHERING?"
(have Hebrews 6:1-12 read at beginning of service)
Read John 15:1-7
SHOW PLANT (needs to be planned ahead!!)
How many of you have ever felt like this plant? You notice that it appears to still be alive but there are some branches that have no leaves. If there was a word that could describe the state of this plant I would say that it is withering. I know I would definitely not say that this is a thriving plant!! It probably would be something that I would want to hide - I don’t think I’d want it to be in the center of my kitchen table. No I think I would place this plant in my basement or in my garage. I might place it where it could get some light and give it some water in the hopes that it might revive and start growing well again but if it doesn’t well I’ll probably toss it. What do you do with your withering plants?
I’d like to make a statement this morning - "IF YOU ARE WITHERING - LOOK OUT! BECAUSE YOU’RE PROBABLY BEGINNING TO DIE! BUT THERE’S HOPE!!" (have them repeat)
It’s sad, but true, that for a lot of Christians - our relationship with Jesus grows old. There are so many people who come to altar calls, pray to give their lives to Jesus, they get excited for a week or two and then everything gets old. Oh but with some people it takes longer maybe a couple of months, maybe a year, two years or maybe even five years. What do I mean it gets old?
I mean that it withers - the relationship with Christ that was once so vibrant and fresh and exciting becomes slow, stale and boring. The sad thing is that sometimes its hard to see this happening because these people still come to church, they still "do ministry", they still say all the right words, they still sing choruses.
Why does this happen? How can this relationship with Jesus Christ who is really the Lord of the universe, the Son of the living God, the Resurrected Saviour, the Bread of Life get old? The answer my friends lies in us as human beings. It’s not God’s fault: it’s our fault. As human beings, it’s easy for anything to get old to us! That’s why the advertising industry always has to come out with new ads and new products, because we don’t like seeing the same thing again and again. We’re not machines. We’re living creatures with active minds who want to be entertained, mesmerized and tantalized.This is why Jesus says in John 15:4, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you." If your relationship with Christ is to be fresh, vibrant and exciting you need to remain in him. Otherwise as He says in verse 6, "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." Jesus understood our human nature - he knew that we get bored easily - he also knew that when we’re bored we don’t do anything!!
In this passage that refers to producing fruit in our lives Jesus is really getting to the heart of what prevents us from producing fruit as Christians.
How many of you like me are procrastinators? If there was a procrastination club it would never meet because the meeting would always be rescheduled!! Have you ever noticed what things in your life get "rescheduled" - if you look really, really carefully I’ll bet its the things that you don’t really want to do! Or maybe it’s because there’s something else more important at that moment. But have you ever noticed what things you tackle with relish and intensity without even thinking about doing it later? I think this is a terrific bit of wisdom - it’s usually the things that you like to do!! Jesus understood that if we didn’t remain in him there would be no fruit produced in our lives - why? Because we’re not in him! How come we’re not in him? Because our relationship with Him has grown old! And you know you’re relationship with Christ has grown old when you’re withering. And you know you’re withering when you go to church because you have to rather than because you want to - when you read your Bible like it is a textbook rather than a love letter - when your praying (when you pray!) becomes rote and habit rather than communication with God - and when your worship and praise is reduced to simply mouthing words found on overheads and on paper rather than sung from the heart and lived.
ARE YOU WITHERING? "IF YOU ARE WITHERING - LOOK OUT! BECAUSE YOU’RE PROBABLY BEGINNING TO DIE! BUT THERE’S HOPE!!"