It can be awfully tempting to disconnect from life for a while...
Of course, we do that occasionally... and we call it a vacation. But... I was reading an article a few weeks ago that claimed, in today’s world, in today’s environment... it takes a full TWO weeks of vacation to decompress and to really feel like you’ve been refreshed and renewed! It takes that long to truly break away.
And in support of that idea... just think about it: do you really - honestly - fully - disconnect while on “vacation?”
If you can, if you’re able to do that, you’re blessed. Most of us can’t. And it’s usually because of our cell phones... we’re constantly connected to the internet... to emails and text messages... and work!
I’ve even spoken with some of you, about how three days off just puts you three days behind at work! So it’s not worth it... you end up working during your “vacation” to keep from falling behind in your responsibilities.
Sometimes it’s actually a relief to disconnect from our wireless connections! I accidently left my phone at home one day last week for a whole afternoon - and I survived!
Disconnecting can be a challenge...
And I think our modern 24-hour news cycle has a lot to do with that! When I was growing up, we had the morning news... the evening news... and the 11:00 pm news - and if something REALLY big happened - we’d have a “News Break” in the middle of “As the World Turns!” Do you remember that?
We knew enough of what was going on... but we were NOT bombarded with the negative and depressing... fill up every minute news cycle of today’s world.
Sometimes it’s best for everyone to just turn it off... to disconnect for a while. If you haven’t done that, give it a try!
And don’t stop at limiting just the news channels... Turn off the TV (switch off the soap operas and Netflix) and read a book... or go play in the garden... or spend some time with the kids or grandkids... go take a walk and get some fresh air. It’ll do wonders for your blood pressure... and... your outlook on life.
The Bible often speaks of taking a “fast” - or a taking an intentional, voluntary “time-out” in regards to the things of this world.
Jesus was known for going to a “solitary place” to pray... to get away from the worries and hassles of this life. That’s one reason we call this place (this space we’re in at this very moment) a “sanctuary.” Modern churches call their places of worship “worship centers.” But “sanctuary” implies a place of refuge... a place of retreat. A place of safety where we gather to step away from the monotony, and demands, of life, if only for just an hour or so...
Of course, not all connectivity is the same. We need some connectivity! We need relationships... friends... family. We need positive connections that help us be (or become) the best versions of ourselves.
Right before Jesus made his way to the cross, he gave some last minute instructions to his followers: “Live in me, and I will live in you,” he said. “A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit unless you live in me” (John 15:4 GW).
In other words... Jesus was saying that being spiritually connected is like being attached to a vine. You can’t be fruitful... or productive... if you’re out there striving to “go it alone.” You’ve got to stay connected.
In plants, a disconnected branch can’t bear fruit. Not only do you lack support... and start to wither and die, but you also don’t have any productivity in your life if you’re not spiritually connected.
How many of you plant a vegetable garden... or plant some kind of fruit producing plants at home? We used to plant a big garden every year with tomatoes and pepper plants and cucumbers and squash, etc.
If you cut off a branch on your tomato plant, what’s gonna happen? It’s gonna die... That “separated” branch is not going to produce any tomatoes... or anything else. The branch has to stay connected to its source of life in order to be fruitful.
God’s Word tells us that when we remain connected to the Vine... our source of strength... the Spirit of Christ... then we produce “The fruit of the Spirit...” which is, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control” (Galatians 5:22-23a NIV).
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be more loving. I’d like to be more joyful. I’d like to be more at peace, no matter what happens to the economy or political arena. I’d like to be kinder to people who are mean to me. I’d like to be a good person. I want to be faithful, not unfaithful. I want to keep my promises. I’d like to be gentle with people who are not very gentle. And I’d like to have more self-control.
The “fruit of the Spirit” represents the evidence that you and I are spiritually connected. The “fruit of the Spirit” tells the world that we are who we claim to be.
If you’re not seeing yourself grow in all these things, guess what? It could mean that you need to focus on your connectivity to the “vine” - to the source of all joy, and peace and patience... and gentleness and self control. It could mean that you need to focus on Jesus.
What’s the evidence in your life, and mine, that we’re bearing fruit?
In area do you and I need to grow? Do we need more patience... more forbearance when it comes to others... more kindness... more self control? How are you going to do that?
What benefits have you witnessed in your life from being connected to the Body of Christ?