Recently I listened to an interview with Jerry Bridges concerning our union with Christ. This is a vital doctrine not only in our salvation, but also for Christian living.
Dr. Bridges gave an example which helps to bring it into focus. As a young believer he was trying to live for Christ by his own strength. As he described it, he viewed his relationship with Christ to be like someone using a phone line. You speak to that person who then speaks back to you. The problem with this perception is that it leaves us thinking God is at a distance from us. We recognize we have some sort of communication with God, but we do not sense that we are in a relationship of constant connection and enabling.
A more biblical understanding of our relationship with Christ can be seen in John 15:1-8, which says Christ is the Vine and we are the branches. That describes a dynamic relationship. We are constantly in connection with him. Everything we need in order to live for Christ comes from Christ himself! He does not simply tell us what we should be; He is the source of all we need to be.
In Christ, there is no distance between us and God. We are as close to him as a branch is to the tree. Our hope for bearing fruit is in the strength and nourishment of the tree – it has nothing to do with what we produce on our own.
Do you look at getting help from God as being like instruction through a phone line, or like what a tree gives to its own branches? Think about this word picture for a little while – keep coming back to it. Get used to thinking about your life according to the illustration God has given, rather than through your own faulty impressions.
“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.” John 15:5