The story is told of a new upstart executive, fresh out of his training school, who wanted to make it big and climb his way to the top. He rented a small office space in the Empire State Building in New York City. He always had a salesman’s attitude and wanted to make a good impression upon first meeting anyone. Even before his telephones had been connected, he was in his office making things happen. He had his name painted on the door and letterhead stationery printed. The second day he was in his office, a fellow knocked at his door. Wanting to appear busy, he began to talk feverishly and loudly so as to be overheard. Yeah, go ahead and make that $100,000 up front,” he cried. Then he called toward the door, “Come on in!” Turning back to the telephone he said, “And I want it on Thursday at the latest. No more excuses! Goodbye.” He looked up at the fellow who had just entered and said, “I’ve only got a couple of minutes. What can I do for you?”
The man looked a bit puzzled. “I came to install your telephones!”
I guess we all tend to use devices that help us look like we are doing what we are supposed to be doing at the time we are supposed to be doing it. But there is one major consideration. Unless we are connected to the main source of power, we are not going to get anything done.
Yeshua said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye wilt; and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). I believe that this state of connectedness is something that is absolutely crucial to our lives as missionaries. It is just as crucial to your life as an individual who is serving the King in whatever capacity. Not only is this true as you read this Jews for Jesus Newsletter, but also as you seek to share God’s message of hope in your sphere of influence, whether it is in your neighborhood, your community, your place of business or your family circle.
Our lines of communication can be outfitted with complex wires and cleverly designed telephone headsets. We can have the nicest advertisements in the yellow pages and three secretaries ready to answer the telephones. But if the lines are not hooked together with that of the main power source, we are not going to be able to talk to anybody. We might even energetically punch in the telephone numbers. We might have great faith that the people on the other end are going to respond to our message. We might do everything right according to the book, but if we are not plugged in to the telephone company, we will not get through.
Last month I was meeting with a Jewish man I had met while distributing broadside tracts one day. He had stopped me while I was handing out the literature to inquire if I had ever heard of a certain rabbi.
“Oh, yes,” I said. “He is overseeing a congregation in my neighborhood.”
“Do you connect with him?” the man asked.
I asked what he meant by “connecting,” and he explained, “You know, feel what he feels, understand what he understands and believe what he believes.”
It was in that conversation with him and then our meeting together later that I began to realize much of the impact of connecting, or in the biblical term, “abiding.” Abiding in Jesus means connecting to him and believing in him and trusting in him for all things in our lives.
Probably the greatest problem to abiding in our society is that we are taught that it all depends on us. We have to produce. We have to make things happen. We have to. It is our responsibility.
You might even attend a congregation that tells you that you have to grow fruit, and if you are not bearing fruit in your life, you are not really a Christian. There is a problem with this whole concept of a branch somehow making itself grow fruit. Even in the strictly physical realm, it is anti-botanical, unscientific, if you will. I am convinced that a branch cannot bear fruit by itself. I am convinced that what Jesus had to say was true. The problem of abiding is that we are not the root. We cannot take the responsibility for the activity of the tree. We cannot receive glory from any fruit that is produced. Actually, the process sort of leaves us out. That is a frustration to our individualism. It is a frustration to our independence. It is a frustration to those who are seeking self-glory.
I guess it should be obvious that if we abide in Yeshua, not only will we have his joy in us, but our prayer requests will be granted because they will be in agreement with the Father’s will. Not only that, we will demonstrate his life to others, bearing fruit in every aspect of our lives. So the real product of abiding is the glory of God. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus' work in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kansas City, but became a college drop-out when he decided to look for the meaning of life in the counterculture of the '60s. He found meaning and relevance in Jesus which caused him much trouble at home. But he says, It was worth the cost." Bob has worked for Jews for Jesus since 1979, and served as the leader of our work in Washington DC and New York City before moving to Sydney in 1998. Bob and his wife Patty both graduated from the University of Kansas and Fuller Seminary. The Mendelsohns live in Sydney near their son. Their two daughters and one grandson live in the US.