John 15:4-5Amplified Bible
4 Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. 5 [a]I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Do we BELONG anywhere or to anyone at any time in any one singular place?
Are we CONNECTED to anything or to any one which transcends ourselves?
Are we IN CONNECTION to anything or to anyone which transcends ourselves?
One of the most striking paradoxes of our current Internet, Broadband, WIFI, social media crazed culture today… is the crisis, believe it or not, of connection.
Never has our world experienced the level of connection that has become possible in just the last 10 years.
It’s become the world of social media globalization … an unlimited potential connection… What has emerged is the quite literal ability to be connected to anyone on the planet at any time …. and Time Zones do not seem to matter.
Yet never have people felt so disconnected….so alienated…so alone.
Sociologists and psychologists are describing the growing and deepening and darkening crisis of social alienation that is plaguing modern life.
Not just an issue of lacking popularity or social success…
Actress Winona Ryder Finds Fame Lonely
“When I was 18, I was driving around at two in the morning, completely crying and alone and scared. I drove by this magazine stand that had this Rolling Stone that I was on the cover of, and it said, ’Winona Ryder: The Luckiest Girl in the World.’ And there I was feeling more alone than I ever had.”
Citation: Winona Ryder, cited from Plugged In, Vol. 6, no. 4 (April 2001); submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky.
There is a very simple premise to this journey…
The search for connection… is a search for the common.
• The very root of the word “community” is “common.”
Here lies the challenge –
The loss of some transcendent connection gives rise to a tendency to find identity through distinctions that prove destructive.
From niche marketing and clothing styles… to social cliques and gangs… to ethnic rivalries and nationalism…
we are so hungry to find ourselves…to belong … that our identify is often simply reduced to that of identifying with some sub-group over and against others.
And those connections prove not only destructive… but dissatisfying…. far too fragile to really provide the deep and long-lasting connection we all long for.
The desperate alternative is to try and simply diminish our differences… forge ahead with “out of thin air,” elusive ideas of common identity… communism, “new” and “untried” tendencies of ‘social tolerance’ and spiritual relativism.
Our Need – to discover the common in the midst of the unique… not a bland conformity… but unity amidst diversity without socio-cultural divisiveness.
The question of equality and inequality, checks and balances. Differences don’t divide when they are centered and secured in the commonalities that connect.
Everything everywhere comes across or is aggressively marketed to us as being “deliberately, catastrophically, maliciously” (politically) unbalanced, unequal.
What part of our daily existence is not being presented as the “ultimate crisis of inequality” requiring some manner of socio-economic, socio-political answer?
Is genuine “equality” even achievable?
Biblically – Absolutely Not! …. when the assessment, evaluation, planning and application and definition of “genuine equality” is left in the hands of mankind.
Everyone has their own personal vision of what “genuine equality” means and how it should be addressed in the grand scheme of things – whatever that word and phrase “grand scheme of things” implies, means to whoever is in charge.
And thus, our greatest crisis is …… which drives everyone it seems into a frenzy,
So, who is in charge?
From our Gospel Narrative, the man, Master Rabbi Jesus simplifies it for us ….
John 15:1-5 Amplified Bible
Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches
15 “[a]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 continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. 4 Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. 5 [b]I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
God Himself set the Eternal Record straight before mankind was even around.
Genesis 1:1-5Amplified Bible
1 In the beginning God ([a]Elohim) [b]created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was [c]formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, [d] “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and [e]He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness. 5 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was [f]evening and there was [g]morning, one day.
Crisis of any kind is tough.
Crisis of Leadership in a Crisis is …… never for the faint nor the weak at heart.
“Leadership Vacuum” crises are definitely considered tougher than most.
Who does one turn to for answers when there is no one “standing tall?”
In that Upper Room, the man, Master Rabbi Jesus, is preparing his disciples for the crisis which is about to befall them – His coming crucifixion and his Death.
The disciples must learn who will be in charge in the coming chaos – and it will not be them – after Jesus they must become secure in their connection in God.
He tells them clearly; the coming crisis is unavoidable -it must come for them to move on, it must come so the Holy Spirit should be sent to help them out.
The disciples have to be in a whirlwind of all different manners of thought.
Everything was going very well; life was good and abundant – but in a short span of hours, all that would suddenly come crashing down around them.
All things being equal in one moment, suddenly thrust into inequality.
Going back to the ways things were before Jesus and before his resurrection?
The reality of his resurrection they and nobody else had any concept of?
Why would God allow this?
What would become of all the promises of God, given to them by Jesus?
In the fog of a crisis, it can be hard to see anything good that God might be doing.
Whether your finances are at risk through a job loss, or you have a relationship that’s threatening to implode, or you’re experiencing some other devastating event, it’s heart-breaking to see your world turned upside down.
Eventually you wonder whether God might be punishing you for something.
But the fact is, we often seek to connect with God in our crises in ways that we wouldn’t ordinarily consider.
We are only one short moment from our worst crisis: One rumor of lay-offs or one unexplained result on a medical test or car accident can change everything.
Suddenly being thrust into crisis, suddenly life cannot about us anymore, it must become about something or someone infinitely greater than yourself.
A major crisis can persuade us to do anything, negotiate anything with God.
Except in the end, we must realistically ask ourselves: is that really so bad?
Obviously, reality is crisis and suffering are indescribably, undeniably painful.
But Master Rabbi Jesus’ point in John 15 is that the only way we can thrive in life is by surrendering, being naturally connected to him, like branches to a vine.
That means our lives will still be in a crisis, but they will be made far richer, by being connected to his grace in a crisis, than if we are drifting off on our own.
The point is not that crises aren’t bad; it’s that being connected to Jesus Christ is greater. Sometimes God uses the blinding fog of a crisis to help us find him.
Has he ever done that with you?
When the storms of a life in crisis are raging around you right now ……
Is He, perhaps right in this exact and exacting moment, revealing His Presence?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Lord God, Author of my Salvation, I look to You right now. Your Word says that You are the door of the sheep. So, Father, we place our trust in You because You will open doors for us that are closed. I pray for Your divine guidance through these doors and thank You for opening them. With You, there is always a way, but alone we will remain stagnant. Thank You for being the eternal door, Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.