Abide in Me, and I in you. As A- the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (Jn. 15:4-6).
From time to time we have storms blow through, breaking off limbs and felling trees. Prior to the storm they were beautiful and green. Once removed from the source of life however, they will decay rapidly.
Some leaves begin to wilt in an hour or two. Others may take a day. Within a few days, there will be nothing left but brown.
Pluck a leaf from a branch, lay it care-fully aside and watch. First it goes limp, then it curls up, then the color fades.
Take a fish out of a lake, lay it carefully aside and watch. First it twists, struggles, flopping and fighting with all its strength, but gradually it weakens and then dies.
Take a faithful, active believer away from the fellowship and worship of the church and watch. At first, they may seem okay, but they're not. Generally the change is not as sudden as a broken limb or a fish out of water. Members first begin to become less involved in Bible study and Wednesday night. Then Sunday attendance begins to slip until they are only attending on Sunday mornings. Then even those become less frequent. Since they no longer "examine themselves" in proper communion with the Lord at the Lord's Supper, the slide toward worldliness is predictable (1 Car. 11:28). In time, "there are too many hypocrites in the church," or "the church is always asking for money," or another excuse... and some just give up altogether.
"Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10:24-25).
Some folks are like farmer Brown who says "sitting in the church house won't make you a Christian anymore than sitting in the hen house will make you a chicken." That's true enough, but you know what? When it's time to roost, all the chickens know where they should be! And when it's time for worship all faithful Christians know where they should be too!
- Tim Orbison