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Words of Life

The Game Changer

By Karl Clauson May 14, 2023 Words of Life

Weakness and our inability are a commodity in God’s economy. One passage has made me a champion of weakness more than any other. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul struggled with something that was causing him pain, distraction, or both. The answer Paul got was the answer I needed back then, and it fuels me to this day. God’s power was perfected, not in my denying or covering up weakness, but by embracing weakness. Boom! That’s it, the critical element in God’s plan for abundance is weakness. This flipped my world upside down.

Jesus told the most epic metaphor of joining God. It’s cited in John 15. I use this when speaking or broadcasting as often as possible. Jesus is giving the last instructions to His first disciples. The metaphor is an absolute game changer for every disciple of Christ since. To me, it’s so vivid that if you hear it or see it accurately, you’ll live it the rest of your life. This is what Jesus said:

Abide in me, and l in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. . . . By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-5, 8)

I often grab two volunteers and bring them on stage to illustrate this teaching of Jesus. I put one person in the role of Jesus. They are to stand there and be the gnarly vine that comes up out of the ground and has all the life-giving supply a branch will need. Then I ask the other person to be the branch. This is simple. They put one hand on the vine, touching “Jesus.” With the other hand, they extend in the air in the opposite direction. Now the Scriptures can make perfect sense. The branch (you and me whom God has saved) has two choices on where to focus: 1. We can focus on the performance/production where the grapes are to grow (our extended hand away from Jesus); 2. Or we can focus on proximity to Jesus — abiding in close relationship with Him (our hand that is touching Jesus). Pick #1 or #2, but you can’t do both.

This is your big decision; it’s the game changer. Either you abide and have proximity to Jesus or try to perform and produce fruit in your strength. Every time we try to grow fruit and rely on our energy, we come up empty and resign ourselves to paste fake fruit onto our lives. There’s a bigger problem with counterfeit fruit and pretending we’re producing fruit. Those at a distance may think we look pretty good, but those closest to us see our lives for what they are. No one is compelled to follow Jesus if all they see is fake fruit.

Living in our strength, we find ourselves struggling to do things that are only born of God. Being friendly and biting your tongue is a far cry from having peace and self-control — the former is the fruit of the flesh and the latter the fruit of the Spirit. If we focus our attention on trying to produce much fruit, we will utterly fail because Jesus said “apart from me you can do nothing.”

The real hope we have for a fruitful life is to agree to join God. By continuously clinging to God, we will look over one day to see our lives bearing fruit that blows our minds. You are a branch if Christ has saved you. Now the only question is: What end of the branch will you focus on? Performance is exhausting and unfruitful. Proximity pays enormous dividends — join God.

Karl Clauson appears on LIFE TODAY this Tuesday. Excerpted from The 7 Resolutions by Karl Clauson. Copyright ©2022 by Karl Clauson. Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.

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