Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Life of Trophies or An Abundant Life

The Good News is that Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John10:10). Jesus came to restore our relationship with God as our Abba, our Heavenly Father. Father’s Day is a day not only to show appreciation for our earthly fathers but it is also a time to reflect on the life of abundance that is rooted in our relationship with our Father Who Is In Heaven. Father's Day is a time when all of us can give thanks for the wonderful, faithful and endless Love of God, our Heavenly Father.

Father’s Day is a time to recognize that all earthly fathers have their failings for no human father can be the perfect father. Ted Cunningham, in his book, “Trophy Child” drew attention to the danger of having kids spending their childhood years fulfilling their parents’ desires and dreams. As a result many fail to discover who God has created them to be and what He has prepared them to do. Many of us are guilty of raising up “trophy children” instead of bringing up our children in a healthy fear of the Lord so that they will have a heart of wisdom. God, and not us as earthly fathers, must take the centre stage in their lives.

Time and again we forget that life is not about us. Jesus taught His disciples that He is the Vine and we are only the branches. As I reflected on John 15:1-8, it dawned on me that success in life tends to cut us off from our true life in Christ who is the Living Vine. We are deceived into seeking to win trophies for God instead of having a relationship with Him so that we can be His grapevine of love and grace in a corrupted and sinful world.

We need to recognise the danger of worldly success that fill us with pride and idolatry. This leads us to live unfruitful lives as we are drawn away from a personal relationship with God. We are infected by the Western culture that is obsessed with success. John Barry rightly lamented that society tend to place successful people on a pedestal, as if they are smarter or better than everyone else. He drew attention to the danger that the need to succeed can tilt a church out of balance when the leader or the donors with the deepest pockets become the focus, and ultimate authority, instead of Christ.

We need to examine our lives and ask ourselves - are we seeking to win trophies in this world – trying to have a trophy career, a trophy spouse, trophy children, a trophy lifestyle or even a trophy church instead of cultivating a loving relationship with God as our Heavenly Father? Is winning success more important than bearing fruit? There is nothing wrong with getting trophies and accolades but these must be the by-products and not our goals of life.

It is only when we are abiding in the Vine that we can bear the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We need to understand that one of the signs that we are bearing fruit is that we will be pruned so that we will bear more fruit. We need to live in the paradox that when we are bearing the fruit of patience, we can be sure that we will encounter more situations that will test our patience so that we will be more fruitful!

Let us praise God as our Heavenly Father on this Father’s Day. Let us thank God that He can make us fruitful even in times of affliction. For when we know God as our Heavenly Father, we will not be distressed by the problems we face in life but we will be strengthened and rise up on wings like the eagle in the storms of life.  We will grow in our faith that the “beating rain are springing up spiritual flowers of such fragrance and beauty as never before grew in that stormless, unchastened life.” To quote J.M McC in one of the devotions from Streams in the Desert:

 “You indeed see the rain. But do you see also the flowers? You are pained by testings. But God sees the sweet flower of faith which is upspringing in your life under those very trials.

You shrink from suffering. But God sees the tender compassion for other sufferers which is finding birth in your soul.

Your heart winces under the sore bereavement. But God sees the deepening and enriching which that sorrow has brought to you.

It isn’t raining afflictions for you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Spirit, which are bringing into your life such a spiritual enrichment as all the fullness of worldly prosperity and ease was never able to beget in your innermost soul.”
The abundant life is not a life of success  but a life that is bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We can live a fruitful life only when we are abiding in Christ.

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