Spiritual Satisfaction in Christ Alone
by Chip Brogden www.theschoolofchrist.org
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesnt produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:1-5
There is only one aspiration that is necessary for a Christian to have, and that is: to know Christ, to abide in Him. It is not Christ plus fellowship, or knowledge of the Bible, or spiritual gifts, or victory over sin. Those things are benefits of relationship, and they accrue to those who abide, who continually dwell in Christ.
I am more and more persuaded that only "one thing is needed" (Lk. 10:42) and not two or three things. Every problem I can see in a person's spiritual life (including my own) is the result of Christ not being the preeminent and one-and-only motivation, and desire. When He is in the proper place there is peace, satisfaction, and order. How much time and effort is wasted in devotion to things that do not lead us more deeply into Christ. More of Him, less of everything else: this is the key to spiritual satisfaction, contentment, rest, and blessing.
Do not mistake emotional satisfaction for spiritual sustenance. One can be very satisfied after rising early to pray but the satisfaction which seems to be "joy" is neither of Christ or based on Christ. And so it is with every other religious duty, devotion, or deed. It leaves the religious with a sense of accomplishment, but that is not the same as a living union with Christ. Inevitable the devotion will fail and the feeling will fade and we find that our affection was for the form and function rather than for the Father.
There is a spiritual oneness that transcends the ups and downs of emotion and feeling. The branch no longer tries to bear fruit of itself, nor does it take credit for the fruit that is borne, for the life of the Vine is its only source of fruitfulness, and it simply trusts in the sufficiency of that Life.
Even those who struggle with their many sins should (I believe) give up their struggling and seek Christ instead of seeking holiness or victory, since holiness and victory and a thousand other good things do come as a result of Christ being central in the heart and mind. True, "we do not yet see all things submitted to Him," (Heb. 2:8) but we are not told to focus effort and energy against those unsubmitted things in order to make submission happen. "We see Jesus," (Heb. 2:9) and "He is able to subdue all things to Himself" (Php. 3:21) since God has "put all things beneath His feet" (Heb.2:8).
God offers nothing outside of, or apart from, Christ, and makes no provision that is not somehow connected with, or passing through, Christ. He offers nothing in addition to Christ, but ensures that all the riches and spiritual blessings are only to be found in Him (cf. Eph. 1:3). He offers nothing less than Christ, since even the greatest things about Him pale in comparison to the Person Himself.
How can I respond to those who cry, "Yes, but..." when pressed with very real needs, even legitimate and necessary needs? Only in this way can I respond: that when Christ so completely fills you that there is room for nothing else, then you will know spiritual satisfaction. Not every need or apparent lack must be filled right away, or even at all. Food is a legitimate need, but even here there is another "meat to eat that you know not of" (Jn. 4:32), and this would enable a person to accept an abundance of food or a lack of food without being overly affected by either.
Some needs can be "met" just by laying down the need, by reclassifying it as a wish or a want, and just letting it go. A great many "needs" can be resolved in this manner, simply by allowing Christ to displace that desire and overshadow it.
I pray the Lord will make this real to us. Amen