Recently, I heard a sermon from a noted spiritual awakening expert based on John 15. He asserted that the key to a “powerful life” is to “abide in Christ” and noted that many Christians are living in “first gear” because they haven’t yet learned this lesson. As an example, he pointed out that you can drive from Tennessee to California in first gear, but your car will have no power and it will take a long time to get there. I don’t disagree with him. I think many Christians are leading ineffective, powerless lives because they try to “do it themselves” rather than relying and depending on Christ.
But something about his sermon didn’t resonate with me, and this morning as I was reading in John 15 (again), I realized why. John 15:14-15 says in part, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants … Instead I have called you friends.” I realized that it isn’t “power” that I want. Instead, it is intimacy with God that I crave.
I won’t argue that “power,” “effectiveness” and “fruitfulness” are natural and important outcomes of abiding. Of course, I want those characteristics in my life. But for me, being a “friend of God” is what keeps me anchored in His will. It isn’t about what “I” can get out of the relationship. It’s about the relationship itself.
I wonder if this is perhaps a male/female thing. Experts tell us that women generally tend to be more relational and focused on intimacy than men. Do men need “power” as a benefit of their relationship with Christ more than women?
I don’t know. I’m not sure it even matters. I realize, though, that this “friendship with God” is my prayer for all the women that we meet on our visits to the red light district. I want them to understand “true intimacy” – one that isn’t based on selfishness, but on selflessness, love and respect.
I also know this: I don’t really care how long it takes me to drive from Tennessee to California — as long as Jesus is in the car with me!