Tuesday, October 14

Vine or Branch?

One more little gold nugget from Roy Hession, in We Would See Jesus, responding to Jesus' teaching, "I am the true vine." He writes: "We start the day as if it were our day and we make our plans for our day and fully intend to do our best for the Lord. The responsibility and government is really on our shoulders, and we have subtly become the vine. But just because it is our day and we are the vine, things soon go wrong. People and circumstances upset our schedule and interfere with what we wanted to do, and there is a reaction of hardness, irritation, and resentment in our hearts, and often the sharp retort on our lips. The very responsibility of being the vine makes us tense, and tenseness always predisposes us to further sin. . . . 

"The way of repentance, however, is ever open to us. Our true Vine, Jesus himself, has, like many an ordinary vine, been tied to a stake, the stake of Calvary. He invites us to return to him in repentance and to confess the source of these things as being our attempt to be ourselves the vine, receiving from His hands forgiveness and cleansing. Immediately he becomes the Vine to us again and we become the branch that rests in him. And in the very place of failure, we have the fruits of the Spirit, the products of his life and nature" (p. 91).

". . . there must be the willingness to be broken and become available to Him as a branch. A branch has no independent life of its own. It exists only to bear the fruit of the Vine. So it must be with us in our relationships to the Lord Jesus. What a battle there is in our hearts so often with our selfishness and personal interests! So often we are just not available to him because we have lapsed back to our old center, self. But it must be surrendered if we are to be available to him as his branch, and that not just in one sweeping surrender, which we may make in a solemn moment of dedication, but just as things come up and as he deals with us. This will involve a continuous dying to self and its rights and wishes, but only so can the Lord Jesus bring forth his fruit on the branch."

Is Jesus the Means or the End?

Another insightful quote from Roy and Revel Hession:

". . . there was not always the mighty working of God that I thought there should have been. The reason is now clear. Our repenting and getting right with God was a means to an end, the end being that souls should be saved--an end other than Jesus himself. . . . We were repenting . . . as a sort of bargain with God" (p. 78).

This challenges me: do I "get right with God" in order to see my family blessed, my ministry blessed, my borders enlarged? Or am I really seeking Jesus himself, and trusting him whatever he may bring?

We Would See Jesus--Book Review

We Would See Jesus We Would See Jesus by Roy Hession

My Goodreads.com review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a solid little devotional book, very helpful to me in thinking about why focusing on Jesus is the beginning, middle and end of what we need and do as his disciples. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a solid conception of the "dark night of the soul," because this book would leave you with the impression that if you're experiencing dryness or darkness, you must simply repent and look to Jesus, perhaps praying more, and all will be restored. Actually, many have found that Jesus seems to be absent or distant despite all repenting and praying, even for a long season. Later, they look back and see he was doing a much deeper work in their soul and had to let them experience that desolation. Roy and Revel Hession wrote in the mid-twentieth century, when that idea was almost completely lost to the Protestant world.

This book was worth the read for its many gems, including:

"To concentrate on service and activity for God may often actively thwart our attaining of the true goal, God himself. At first sight it seems heroic to fling our lives away in the service of God and of our fellows. . . . Service seems so unselfish, whereas concentrating on our walk with him seems so selfish and self-centered. But it is the very reverse. The things that God is most concerned about are our coldness of heart towards himself and our proud, unbroken natures. Christian service of itself can, and so often does, leave our self-centered nature untouched. [Now listen to this!] That is why there is scarcely a church, a mission station, or a committee undertaking a special piece of service, that is without an unresolved problem of personal relationships eating out its hear and thwarting its progress. . . . In this condition we are trying to give to others an answer which we have not truly and deeply found for ourselves" (pp. 14-15).

View all my reviews on Goodreads.com.