“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” –Mark 15:34
“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.” (John 15:4–5 ESV)
When someone tells you, “You’re perfect just the way you are,” your reaction isn’t generally to disagree with their assessment. In fact, you’re likely to thank them, even compliment them in return, for this is how a statement such as this is intended to be taken, as a compliment. Yet, the inherent meaning behind this phrase is that you no longer need to care about the transformation process, being a better parent, growing into a more fully devoted follower of Christ; you’ve reached the pinnacle of all that is possible. You are perfect. We all know this is patently false. As much as we would like to claim otherwise, we are all in need of improvement.
Jesus described the situation as this: “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45 NLT). If this is true—and we believe it to be so because it comes from Jesus—then we must seek to continually guard our hearts against evil and foster the growth of goodness and truth and righteousness. Thankfully, we are not on this journey alone. Jesus promised to abide with us if we would abide in Him, and, like a branch that remains attached to the trunk of a tree, we will continue to produce good fruit. Attend to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your heart today; pay attention to the things He points out, and guard your heart against any distractions that might pull your attention away from where He is at work.