John 15: 1-17
Pastor Chris Tweitmann
“Failure to thrive” is a phrase used by both pediatricians and veterinarians to indicate young children and/or animals who are experiencing insufficient weight gain. In other words, they are not existing in an optimal state of being. Something is lacking or missing for them.
Many people, not just infants, toddlers, or pets, exhibit their own failure to thrive. Such persons are getting by in their day to day lives. They are surviving, but they are not thriving. Something is lacking or missing for them.
Our Heavenly Father intended for us to live differently. When God finished creating the world He said it was, “Very good.” The Lord’s intent for His creation was for it to flourish. As part of God’s creation, being made in His image, we were created to flourish – to learn, to grow, and to mature into our best selves.
In fact, the Lord is so committed to this desire for us, He came down to us in Jesus Christ to clear the Way, reveal the Truth, and to give us the Life we were intended to live. The Cross, the Resurrection, and Pentecost together both unveil the nature and goal of God’s redemption for us as well as empower us to become all we were meant to be. Human flourishing is at the heart of the promise of the Gospel and the declaration of the Kingdom of God being among us.
Jesus Himself expressed it this way, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”
As we’ve heard over these last two weeks, this theme of biblical flourishing drives the heart of Grace’s missional narrative – a concise but detailed description of the vision and direction of our future together. Last Sunday, we explored the scriptural definition of what it means to thrive. Together we learned the key to human flourishing, biblically, is being rooted in Christ. The reason we fail to thrive in the long term is because we accept shallow substitutes. From the world’s vantage point, exceling in life means immediate gratification and material acquisition. We falsely believe we are prospering when life is convenient, comfortable, and easy.
For followers of Jesus, the concept of “human flourishing” goes much deeper and extends much wider than the standard cultural definitions. To be thriving is not just living “the good life” – it’s experiencing life the way our Father designed it to be – abundant and eternal. Surprisingly and thankfully, Jesus assures us in the Beatitudes, the opening to the Sermon on the Mount, that it is even possible for us to flourish in the midst of pain and suffering. As Paul tells us in Romans 8:28, God is able to work all things together for our good.
We feel this desire, the Lord’s desire, for flourishing deep in our bones.
But what does this kind of life – a life that is thriving in Christ – look like?
This week, as we continue to hear, better appreciate and continue to digest Grace’s missional narrative, this is the question we are going to be answering. To do so, we will return to the Sermon on the Mount. Simple, straightforward, and immensely practical, this sermon reflects the core of Jesus’ essential teachings. Rather than laying down laws and calling us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, Jesus offers us a startling invitation to inhabit the world as God created it to be. It is the description of what real flourishing is – of living life based on our Father’s design and desire for us.
Join us this Sunday to catch a glimpse of what this kind of life looks like in real time – in the everyday and ordinary of our existence. Come and be encouraged not with a list of things to do but a presentation of how we can be – can become our best selves. God’s gracious gift of the Gospel through His Son Jesus Christ not only restores our broken relationships with God, each other, and the physical creation but also empowers and directs us through His Spirit to live the abundant and everlasting life for which we were created to live TODAY.
Grace to you!