MEAGHAN MAY | GUEST
She was simply selling magazines door to door.
I never caught her name, but she asked me a question that left an impression.
She asked why I would buy a magazine from her, and thinking a visual image may stick, the word “flourishing” fell from my lips.
Flourishing in Relationship with Christ
In Mark 10 we read the story of a man who by most standards was a success. He ran up to Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus engages him with a question, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Asking the man if he recalls the Commandments, the man responds, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”
Like this rich young man, we spend a lot of energy trying to succeed on our own. Instead of sending him away in frustration, Jesus invites the young man into deeper fellowship.
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’”
But the man only heard what he had to give up.
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
For the first time, this man felt like something was asked of him that he could not do. Though it was an invitation to unburden himself and enjoy true flourishing, he went away sad.
In looking for good teaching, he missed the good news! The rich young man didn’t discover all that he could possess in Christ. He missed the face of His Savior radiating love.
When the young man went on his way the crowd asked, “Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Jesus makes it clear that flourishing happens in relationship with Him.
The Fruit of Flourishing
In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples more about where flourishing and joy may be experienced. While the rich man appeared to have achieved success and goodness from the outside, he lacked what was most vital, and it caused him great sadness and isolation.
In his seventh and final great “I am” statement, Jesus used a symbol especially precious to Jewish people, that of a vine. Israel was often spoken of as a vine in Scripture. In this passage Jesus demonstrates that he is the truer vine.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:4-5,11).
Of course, the rich young man was disheartened. We cannot generate life and growth on our own, but only by the indwelling Spirit of God. Through His work is us, we experience loving fellowship which transforms us from the inside out so that we may do what we never could have done on our own.
Our fruitfulness is evidence of our flourishing. In order to increase our capacity to bear fruit, God, the loving Vinedresser, draws near as He prunes all that impedes our production.
Like Jesus invited the rich young man to do, we can shed that which keeps us from Christ.
The author of Hebrews invites us to:
“lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).
When we experience love in fellowship with the Triune God, it becomes a delight to live as we are commanded. In union with Jesus, the fruit of His Spirit becomes evidence of growing Christlikeness. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:10-11).
This is what flourishing looks like. It is growing and experiencing life as we were made to, in fellowship with a loving Savior who invites us to Himself.
I never had the opportunity to chat with the woman who sold me the magazine subscription, but when I get my mail, I think of her and pray that our brief moment seeing each other eye-to-eye helped her feel seen. And then I pray that she and I will both flourish as God intended.
What difference does it make for you to see the examples of Jesus’ loving looks? How is his invitation to life-giving fellowship an offering to receive His love and live with greater joy and less of a burden?
About the Author:
Meaghan currently serves as the Elders’ Wives Liaison for the PCA with the support of CDM. She is also a trainer with Parakaleo and leads the local network with the Potomac Presbytery. She has been in ministry for two decades: serving in children’s ministry, youth ministry, special needs ministry, women’s ministry, conference planning, retreat speaking, coaching, and church planting.
Meaghan and her husband, Reverend Paul May, planted King’s Cross Church in Ashburn, VA with their five children. Meaghan loves to invest in the lives of women, listen to podcasts, hike with her family, read books, laugh, go on road trips, and experiment with new recipes. To connect to WE, the new ministry initiative for Teaching and Ruling Elders’ Wives in the PCA, please visit http://www.pcacdm.org/WE