I sat down with a kid the other day and he had multiple questions about the faith – I want to give you a quick run through of our conversation!
Young Man: “How do you be a Christian and then just go knock the mess out of people on the football field? I think most christians who are athletes want to be like Tim Tebow – so how do I be like Tim Tebow?”
Me: “Man incredible questions, I remember being a senior in high school and having those same questions! The reality is this: you want to be like Tim because you think what you see is him but the great things you have seen and heard about Tebow is actually Jesus. It is the fruit of being connected to the vine. So the question isn’t how do I be like Tim Tebow, but how do I be more like Jesus?”
My Playing Days
I vividly remember idolizing Tim Tebow and wondering those exact same things. I had wanted to be that guy in high school – and tried to be – but by the end of my time in high school I wasn’t and gave up trying. I received a scholarship offer to play college football and I was grateful for it, because it meant I would have another chance to prove I could be like him (Tim Tebow). It was a fresh start.
College was more of the same – trying & failing, but I am grateful that I failed to muster up the willpower to do right and be like Tim. Had I not failed over and over I would have never been able to tell this young man the truth. He can’t be like Tim, or Jesus, in his own power! That is the reality that took me way too long to understand.
Back to the Conversation
Me: “Is Christianity all about doing the right things?”
Young man: “Yes, I try to do the right things.”
We were sitting at Chick-fil-A and the conversation was set up perfectly – there was a pine tree on the table with a few pine cones on the branches.
I redirected us to John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”
I picked up the tree and I pulled it into the middle of the table. I said, “All of us who believe, we are the branches on this pine tree.”
“The reality is you can do nothing apart from the vine. This branch produced this pine cone because it was connected the the trunk of the tree (vine). Now if this branch is removed from the tree it cannot produce a pine cone. Your frustration of not being able to be like Tim Tebow stems from not being connected to the vine. When you are connected to the vine, the natural occurrence is that you will produce fruit.”
I quoted Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control”
“This is the fruit that Jesus was referencing in John 15. This is what will become evident in your life when you are connected to the vine.”
Young man: “Man, I have heard this before but it never made sense until now. So it isn’t about me!”
I thanked Jesus for revealing to this young man that the Gospel is not about us but about who He is & what He has done for us. The truth was revealed to him and will forever alter the way in which he views God and the Gospel. This was a Holy Spirit led conversation. Should we expect anything less at a Chick-fil-A? That’s the Lord’s place!
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”
Jesus is the source and perfecter of our faith. The Gospel is all about Him. It is about what HE has accomplished for us because of His love for us. To even have faith in Him, He must initiate it in us. Faith is the fruit of being connected to the vine.
So putting this all together, if you want to be like Jesus you must be connected to Him. Being a Christian is about being in an abiding relationship with Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
We have all fallen short of the glory of God, but He has revealed His glory to us due to His love for us. He hasn’t withheld any part of Himself and we can be as close to God as we are willing to be.
It’s clear that the human way leads to death & the way of Christ leads to life – so which power are you operating from? The Power of Mine? Or the Power of the Vine?