Throughout the history of religious belief, although God had been known to be the ultimate source of life, God had been viewed as “way out there,” far too great, holy, and distant; constantly needing to be appeased by obedience and sacrifice.
While affirming the infinite greatness and holiness of God, Jesus reveals to us that the one thing this great and holy God wanted all along was to be close to us.
How close? As close as a vine is grafted to the branches, as close as the perfect Dad would be to his children.
The very life we long to live, the joy and meaning we long to have is directly connected to our staying near to the God who wants to be closer than the very breath we breathe.
Listen in as BJ Albert speaks about what it means to have an intimate relationship with God.
Church Can Be Simple
Questions for personal reflection and group discussion:
1. What image of God do you have when you pray? Do you see God as someone distant, someone that needs to be appeased, or do you see him as a loving father who desires to show you love and mercy, a father who longs to give you an abundant life? What experience do you think has contributed in shaping your view of God?
2. When do you feel closest to God? Why would you say you feel closer to God during these times? When do you feel furthest from God?
3. The passage uses phrases like “live in me,” make your home in me” “be joined with me,” what does this practically look like for you in your life?
John 15:1-11 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Matthew 6:5-8 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
1 Corinthians 13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.