When we place our trust in Christ for personal forgiveness and righteousness (a right relationship with God), we embark on a spiritual journey. Along this path, our aim is to taste the freedom of approaching God on His terms, without the need for our own performance. For many, this promising start is succeeded by years of striving to lead a spiritual life. Why? I believe it’s because a part of our inner makeup is inherently religious. “Religion” revolves around my endeavors to please God. Genuine spirituality revolves around my relationship with God through Christ, given freely and received freely.
Just as I lack the capacity to initiate a relationship with God, I’ve come to realize that I lack the strength to daily live in a manner resembling what Jesus described as an “abundant life” (John 10:10).
Sometimes, it takes years to grasp this second phase of our own insufficiency. Yet, when we do, it can be as liberating as discovering the unearned gift of salvation.
I am spiritually helpless. I was helpless when I set out on this spiritual journey, and I remain powerless to navigate it day by day. I am powerless over the consequences of the years of my separation from God and the impact they had on my growth as a person. Only God’s grace supplied the gift I needed to accept Christ. Only God’s grace will empower me to live with His strength in the midst of my helplessness.
One evening, Jesus gathered with His disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem. It was the most crucial of numerous nights He had spent with them over the course of three years. This was the night preceding His crucifixion, where He would bear the weight of humanity’s sins and open the door for powerless individuals to know, love, and serve God. In that upper room, Jesus imparted His final instructions to the disciples before heading to the cross.
According to the account by the Apostle John, Jesus used the metaphor of a vine and its branches to convey the most vital lesson about spiritual living. He told the disciples that He was the vine and they were the branches. He taught them that apart from Him, they could accomplish nothing (John 15:5). The core of the illustration lay in their (and our) powerlessness and His empowerment. He went on to explain that if they would abide in Him as a branch abides in the vine, they would bear abundant fruit. Fruit serves as a symbol for all that Jesus aims to achieve in and through us.
Fruitfulness is an image of vibrant living.
We all recognize that there are many tasks we can manage without Christ. However, when it comes to living out the Christian life effectively, all our efforts, apart from His dwelling and empowerment, amount to nothing. We are powerless.
At first glance, this truth may seem a tad disheartening.
After all, who desires to be powerless? Paradoxically, the deeper you grasp this truth, the more liberated you’ll feel, and the more equipped you’ll be to draw from the source of genuine power that fuels spiritual vitality. I refer to this experience as the delight of helplessness. The pressure is lifted! I no longer need to struggle to accomplish what I couldn’t, and never could, do.
How helplessness becomes power is also encapsulated in Jesus’ initial proclamation in the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon provides a concise overview of the keys to leading a blessed life. Jesus commenced the message with the declaration,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:6). Given that the term “poor” here translates to the Greek word “ptochos,” signifying “abject poverty,” we might rephrase this statement as, “Blessed are the spiritually destitute.”
In essence, blessed are the powerless.
Spiritual poverty arises from recognizing that I am wholly reliant on Christ not only for salvation, but also for the strength to live in a way that yields a blessed life.
Do you enjoy my weekly blogs? Help me reach more people, and please share this with your friends. Thank you!
President & Founder
Hill Cities, Inc.