Basic 20/20 vision.
Every once in a while a teacher is asked a question that puts a big smile on her face. This was just such a question - 'can you teach us how to grow in our faith?' I imagine Jesus smiled when the disciples asked him to teach them to pray.
Robbie was a 15 ½-year-old lacrosse player in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group I led, and his world had been rocked by encountering Jesus Christ. As I got to work on an answer to his question, I asked God for direction and also for simplicity. So many of the students had little exposure to the things of God, so it was a challenge not to shoot over their heads. In the answer to my prayer, I believe I heard the Lord say, 'Just give them Jesus . . . just give them Me.' And so I did.
There were just 30 red New Testaments to spread between almost 100 students, but they gladly shared the little books. 'Turn to John chapter 15,' I said, and smiled as I watched and listened to the turning of the pages. [I'm certain God himself smiles as we open the Word expectantly, eagerly turning pages to seek out divine truths]
I set the scene of the passage for them: Jesus had just shared the Passover meal with his beloved disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, as crowds streamed by below. This is the night we oft refer to simply as 'the Last Supper' because it was the last meal Jesus ate with the disciples before he was arrested and crucified. Jesus showed them the purest form of humility, going around the table and washing their feet before they ate . . . and then he told them he was going to go away, and where he was going, they could not come.1 However, he would prepare a place for them,2 and that he would not leave them alone, but would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.3 Then, he looked around and said, "Come now; let us leave."4
And so, Jesus led his best friends out of town and through a vineyard, where he used the grapevine to symbolize those who want to be connected to God, connected to him [indeed the very answer to the question: how can I grow in my faith, Christine?!] "I am the Vine, you are the branches ... apart from me, you can do nothing..."5
Stop. Remember, I am attempting to give the students a little insight into Jesus, get them into the Bible and teach them how to grow in their own personal faith. So we read a few verses from John 15 and then I asked the students three questions:
1. What are these verses saying-i.e., what is Jesus saying, calling himself the Vine and us the branches? Life comes from being connected to Jesus Christ
2. How does it apply to us? If we want to have life, if we want to grow, we must seek connection to Christ
3. What do we do then (what action should we take?) Get to know God through his Word, get to know him by communicating with him . . . you know, pray!
Some read the last Morning Briefing, Passion is Compelling, in agreement with the concept, but really not being sure how to initially launch their faith or relaunch ... capiche? That's what made me reflect on the basic question from almost a decade ago, addressed on a humble Sunday night in San Clemente to a roomful of listening athletes.
See, we have a God who comes to us, a God who came in the form of Jesus for one purpose: to have relationship with us.
Foot against the starting block - of desire to grow in faith,
Hand on the Word of God - consulting it for truth
Eyes cast heavenward - connecting with God.
Basic 20/20 vision.
I believe that this is the start of growing in our Christian faith . . . now grow!
1 - John 13.11
2 - John 14.1-3
3 - John 14.6-7
4 - John 14.31
5 - John 15.5