In Christ, we can do all things to the glory of the Father. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing and, in fact, are nothing. At the end of the day, there is no middle ground. We are either in Christ or apart from Christ. We cannot pretend to live partially in Christ and partially in the world. To abide in the world is to be apart from Christ; a fruitless branch to be taken away by the vindedresser and tossed into the fire. To abide in Christ is to shun the world and its enticements and bear fruit for the kingdom of God.
To abide in Christ, to have his life in us, is to participate in the very life of God. “Abide in me, and I in you,” Jesus says (John 15:4). This is union with Christ which makes us one, also, with the Father through the Holy Spirit. The one who so abides in Christ cannot help but bear fruit to the glory of the Father because the same Spirit which is in Christ is also in everyone who abides in Christ. It is for this reason that we were created in the image and likeness of God, that God might be glorified through us. But the fall has cut us off from a perfect relationship with God. The only way to restoration is through Christ.
To seek a relationship with God apart from Christ is sheer foolishness. In fact, it is impossible. The only “god” we can seek apart from Christ is one we make in our own image to satisfy our own carnal desires. Whenever we think we can make the first move toward God, we inevitably end up with a god of our own making.
Here is the difference between the Christian faith and all others. In Christ, God is making the first move toward us. We are not seeking him; he is seeking us. We do not choose him; he chooses us. We are not called to strive under our own strength to find a god of our own imagination. We are called, instead, simply to abide in him whom God the Father has sent to draw us back to him. The God who seeks us is the God who created us to bear fruit for his kingdom and glorify his name. Our sins have cut us off from him, but he desires to restore us and make us whole again.
All he asks of us is that we abide in the life-giving, sacrificial love of his Son and keep his commandments. To do this is truly to live the life that pleases God and glorifies his name. To live such a life is true, full, and complete joy.