I’m sitting at a computer tonight. Since it’s night, I have the light on. If that seems too commonplace to mention, try it some stormy night when a falling tree branch has severed the overhead cable that supplies your electricity. Leaving battery operated gadgets aside for a while, all of our electrical stuff must be plugged in before we can use it. The fuse or circuit breaker must allow current to flow. Our home is connected to power lines, transformers, and other equipment that can be traced all the way back to the electrical generating plant. That’s the source of all the electrical power we use. If any part of the connection breaks down, our stuff won’t work.
The human race has only had electricity for the blink of an eye compared to the whole sweep of history. The principle electricity works on, though, is as old as nature. Branches cannot survive, let alone bear flowers or fruit, apart from their tree, bush, or vine. It’s a spiritual principle as well. Jesus is the source of spiritual power:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. — John 15:1-7, NASB
A vine dresser must work to maintain the vine. The electric crew must work to keep the entire electrical system intact. The vine and the power lines do nothing. They are acted upon and do not cooperate in their maintenance. It is different with us. God does all the work necessary for us to reach full spiritual functioning. He communicates, too. Whatever we need to know about the power we need, the power available to us, is either in the Bible or the Holy Spirit will reveal to us. But we have to cooperate with him. Romans 12:1 tells us to be living sacrifices. Among other things, that means we have a choice how much to cooperate with God. We love the passages in the Bible that tell of God’s power, but unless we sacrificially act on them, nothing happens.
Sin wants nothing to do with God. Every Christian has been saved out of sin, but that sin still beckons. It still feels comfortable, natural, homey. Abiding in the vine therefore becomes a sacrificial act. We can only do it if we are willing to say no to our comfortable weaknesses. In the grand scheme of things, though, that is no more work than making sure our appliances are plugged in and turned on. God supplies the power to make the sacrifice and keeps the whole system in perfect working order.