A diamond and graphite (pencil lead) are chemically the same substance. Interestingly a diamond is on the top of the scale as far as hardness goes and graphite is among the softest.
So, what is the difference? It is the connections and internal structure, what is connected to what and how. I have heard it said, the only difference between a pencil lead and diamond is pressure. As Christians we are coming under more and more social pressure. We are far from the mainstream perspective in many issues. So, how will we respond to the pressure? Will we be at the diamond end, strong and resilient, or are we going to be at the softer graphite end of the scale.
Following the above analogy, how we respond to the pressure will be dependent on the connections we have and our internal structure. For myself I must look at what I am connected to and how strong that connection is, or maybe it is better to ask who am I connected to? My faith would demand that I am connected to the Lord Jesus Christ as referred to in these words of Jesus in John 15:5-6:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
It is a strong statement, which I think is hugely relevant in our times as individual believers as well as corporate believers.
Sometimes remain is translated as abide which has a connotation in the Greek to continue, dwell, endure or be present. I would like to pick up on the connotation of being present to and with Jesus because I think it connects best with the concept of our internal structure. I must remain present to the source or the vine if I am going to be able to realistically not only survive but flourish in these times of challenge. Interestingly there is a school of thought that says in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) the word blessed could also be translated as flourishing. To my western mindset blessing means everything is going to be good and easy but with the word flourishing, we can flourish even in hard times.
By remaining connected and present I am creating an internal structure that may not be hard in the truest sense of the meaning but is extremely strong and robust. That structure will be defined by the activity and process that I create that nourishes my relationship with Jesus. In other words what are my spiritual habits and disciplines like? Do I understand and use disciplines like fasting, prayer, study of the Word, silence, and solitude? Do I use these as the basis of a solid internal faith structure to maintain my connection to the true vine?
Without these structures I am convinced I cannot succeed in the long term. What do you think?
In the words of Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid movie, “Walk on road: Walk right side, safe. Walk left side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, get squished, just like grape.”
We need to choose our side of the road. There will be no middle ground in the coming days.