A friend of mine walked away from Christianity several years ago.

On the outside looking in, if you didn’t know him personally, you’d think he was a strong fruitful Christian. He got baptized, served on the worship team, attended extracurricular church activities, memorized Scripture and prayed when asked.

When we spoke recently, he told me that he was forced to do a lot of these things as a child. His parents never gave him the choice to skip out on family devotional time or miss church. He never made the personal decision on his own to become a Christian. No matter how much he did serve Jesus, he wasn’t serving in spirit or in truth. He only produced fake fruit.

Legalism has no part in a fruitful relationship with God. Despite his parents forcing him, my friend just did what he was told. On the surface, he looked like a believer but in his heart, he had no reason to believe in a God he was forced to obey. He never learned what it truly meant to abide.

True Christianity is not just about serving. It is not about doing good either, though that is a result of life with Jesus. True Christianity is trusting, resting and surrendering; abiding (Matthew 16:24-26). We rob ourselves of the joy of serving in the power of his Spirit when we serve Jesus without Jesus himself.

Philippians 2:12-13 tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling… for it is God who is working in you. So how exactly can we both work and abide?

Matt Bradner explains this wonderfully:

“[Jesus] gives commands like, ‘Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). What are we to do under the weight of such demands? Do we engage in the futile attempt of trying to fulfill them on our own? Or do we recognize that these demands are invitations from Jesus in disguise?

Jesus desires to be for us whatever he demands from us, if we will ask and receive.

We are meant to hear demands like Matthew 5:48 and place them back in Jesus’ hands, confessing, ‘I can’t meet your demands without you,’ and asking, ‘Will you be for me what you have asked from me?’”

Jesus, I cannot be a Christian without you. I don’t want to live a “godly life” apart from your Spirit. I abide in you today. I surrender my will and submit to your holy power over my mind, heart and body. I can’t meet your demands without you, Father. Will you be for me what you have asked from me?

Additional Resource: Read the rest of Matt Bradner’s article here.

Tags: Obedience John 15 Trust sanctification
Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash