the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me - and I in him - bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing (John 15:5).
Last week we looked at a couple of reasons a Christian might experience spiritual depression. The fact is there are many causes of spiritual depression but the outcome is always the same: the Believer is rendered ineffective for kingdom work. The truth is, Satan makes good use of the Christian who wallows in Spiritual depression., What better advertisement for following the way of the world than the sour face and grumpy attitude of a follower of Jesus Christ.
Although there are a number of root causes of spiritual depression, there is only one cure. That cure is found in Jesus Christ. The passage from John's gospel quoted at the beginning of the article sums up the cure for Spiritual depression. In short, the down cast Christian is not abiding in Jesus Christ as he ought.
When those who are born again abide in Christ they are learning to forget self and focus on Jesus. They are learning that they can do nothing on their own - yet they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them (Philippians 4:13). New creations who remain in Jesus grow in the consciousness that human discernment is incapable of making sense of this world. Yes, to a certain point, natural understanding enables us to grasp the basics, but if we want to truly understand how things work, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12;2) and learn to see things as God sees them. Otherwise it is impossible to see how all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). And if we fail to see the hand of God at work in our lives - forgiving sin, restoring fellowship, using trail, tribulation and loss for our good and his glory – then we are on the path to spiritual depression.
The absence of spiritual depression is one indicator we are abiding in Christ. But it cannot stop there. We must move beyond a place of “not having something” to actually producing fruit. A healthy Christian life only remains healthy when it is growing. Thus, the bulwark in Christ against spiritual depression is bearing fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a) and a life characterized by these and other evidences of “Christ within you” will rarely - if ever - slip into spiritual depression. This is a life of love and service; a life concerned with doing what most benefits the other person rather than worry about self. It is a life consumed with love and gratitude toward Jesus Christ and an overwhelming desire to please him.
Are you spiritually depressed? Do you suffer from an absence of God's joy in your life? Then turn your eyes away from self and look to Jesus. Learn to see things they way he sees them. Strive in the strength of the Holy Spirit to work out your salvation – to bring your life and arena of activity under the authority of king Jesus in joyful service.