John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)
Even if you're not technically-minded, you'll see the lesson that I gleaned today from my troubles with electronic technology. Let me explain:
Yesterday, I purchased a keyboard and case for my tablet computer. I thought that this new keyboard would be easier to use than the one that pops up on my screen. However, my tablet refused to recognize the new device. What frustration! How I was looking forward to using this better keyboard!
This external keyboard will not work unless it is connected by the wire provided. It functions only if it receives power from the tablet. But I did plug it in! It should have worked! I wasted all yesterday surfing the Internet, emailing the company, and calling the store that sold it, but to no avail. I must go back to the store and get it replaced.
I intensely dislike wasting time over technology. It's so frustrating! Thankfully, this time, I discovered a useful metaphor for the Christian life:
We are like my keyboard, and God is like my tablet. We can do nothing apart from being connected to the source of power. Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing." We cannot fulfill our life-purpose unless we remain in Him. Apart from Him, we are like my new keyboard pad: disconnected and useless.
Ah — but my keyboard was connected!
Not so! It was plugged in, but connected only in appearance. No power was flowing from the tablet to activate the keyboard. And so, even though I went through all the right motions, any typing that I did with it was as good as dead. My efforts were fruitless.
God's people can be like that too: We can go through all the right motions, yet not be truly connected to our source of life. Apart from God's saving grace and the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit, our efforts are just as dead as my futile typing.
I could decide to simply enjoy the feel of my "leather" case. I could learn to enjoy tapping the keys, maybe for the rest of my life. I might even come to believe that my key-tapping was actually sending a message to someone — if I forgot what this keyboard was designed to do. Imagine the waste that would be! My keyboard pad would never fulfill its purpose! Far better that I wasted yesterday in misery searching for a solution, than that I waste my future in passive contentment.
Misery is not always bad. It might reveal that we are disillusioned with fruitless living and that we want to become who we are truly called to be in Christ. Misery can drive us towards our Lord. And then we hear His voice crying out, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:4 NIV)
My keyboard is clearly unfruitful — all because it is not connecting. If the techie experts decide that it is unfixable, it will be "thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:6 NIV), just as is done with branches that aren't connected to the vine.
Our society knows little about fruit tree farming, but it does know the world of electronic technology: In this world, connection is synonymous with usefulness. What an ideal metaphor for the Christian life! Jesus said, "Now remain in my love." (John 15:9 NIV)
Jesus described two kinds of "branches": one that doesn't bear fruit and one that does. One is burned; the other is pruned. Today's technology is similar: In time every electronic item is either tossed into e-waste or upgraded for better performance: burned or pruned. There's no other way. Connect-ability is, indisputably, a key factor in the outcome of every item. It is also a spiritual truth.
May this be your prayer: Lord, I desire that all my thinking and doing flow from a resolute connection with You. I welcome Your "upgrading" processes in my life. Uninstall and delete any fruitless bents, and help me to remain firmly connected to Your love, that I may be increasingly effective for You. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Now Thank We All Our God" (Lyrics)