This Little Light of Mine
When we were kids, my sister and I spent a big part of our summers staying with relatives in Tennessee and the Carolinas. During one visit, we were playing in the yard when my aunt came out of the house to start fixing dinner. And when I say fixing dinner, I mean she came out and caught up a large rooster by the hocks. It flapped, squawked, and tried everything to get away as she headed for the wood pile.
Well naturally, we followed her – and right in front of us wide-eyed kids, she cut that rooster’s head off with one quick hatchet stroke. My sister tried to choke back her initial shock, but what set her to running and screaming was when my aunt let go of that headless rooster, and the thing took off running across the farm yard until it ran itself plum out of this life.
Thinking back on that day, it amazed me how long that chicken ran around not realizing it was already dead. It was just a combination of habit and reflex, but it freaked me out nonetheless.
Have you ever felt like you were running around with your head cut off? Maybe feeling disconnected from yourself? Even though you are going through the motions, in a strange sort of way you feel more like an observer than a participant—your thoughts, decisions, and ultimately, your actions, seem to have a mind and will of their own.
I confess that I’ve felt that way more than I like to admit. What’s really aggravating is that I know better than to let things get to that point. I happened upon a Bible verse this morning that summed it up pretty good for me: “He has lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (Colossians 2:19 NIV).
Jesus said it this way, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).
So how does a person keep connected to Christ, the head? All I can tell you is what works for me. I try to stay involved and active in the life of Christ. For me it means that I follow the ultimate command of Jesus. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NIV).
Practically speaking, I think that though we continue to study and read the Bible, we often stop participating with God. Instead of joining in the work of making disciples and reaching others for Christ, we sit on the bench, getting fat and bloated on the word of God – sort of like eating without ever exercising our bodies. Unintentionally, our focus becomes ourselves and our own lives. It can become very disconnecting.
Paul gives great advice that we can use to keep connected with the head. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:1-2 NIV).
As we read these sayings of Jesus and Paul, I think we can make two important conclusions.
First, it’s important to stay connected to Jesus, to continually receive our life and direction from him (as the branch does from the vine). Through both private and community prayer, through reading and meditating on the Word, and through listening and learning from good, practical, Bible-based teachers of the gospel.
Second, we need to bear fruit. That’s what healthy vines do—they bear fruit. How do we do that? By loving each other! Act on his love – don’t just be satisfied with feeling all warm and mushy towards one another – find out what God wants you to do, then do it. Remember what Jesus said, “…love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13 NIV) The fruit follows love! Go the extra mile. Make that call! Send that email! Say that prayer! Take those groceries or clothes to someone who needs them! Whatever you do, don’t be fearful, ashamed, or just too lazy to act on his love. Come on, get connected!
Remember this admonition from Paul in Galatians 5:6: “The only thing that counts is faith, expressing itself through love.”