“I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. . . . Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1)
There are lots of vines we can tap into and look to take our lives from. We may be trying to suck up as much attention, affection or affirmation as we can get. Perhaps we’re trying to slurp up cash, confidence or control, and achieve what our culture defines as success.
Jesus confronts us with what goes against the grain of both instinct and social imperatives. He brings us face-to-face with our attachments: what they are, who they are, and what they provide.
“I am the vine; you are the branches” — not the other way around! Jesus isn’t here to do my will; I’m here to do His. I can’t decide what fruit I’m going to produce and then expect Him to automatically bless it. My decision is whether to seek His will and then carry it out under His guidance, using His resources. That takes connection; plugging in and staying plugged in. That kind of connection means my prayers will be aligned with His will and therefore answered with a “Yes!”, because “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be done for you.”
My challenge — and perhaps yours — is that although I want to stay solidly pugged in, sometimes my connection works loose. If I were a light bulb, there would be a flickering to alert me to check my connection. As it is, the flickers come to me through Scripture, devotionals, and taking time to listen. One of the many ways God constantly amazes me is in the depth and breadth of His patience.
Consistently, compassionately, Jesus invites me to
- Remain in Me. Draw your inspiration, purposes and strength from Me. Don’t connect sporadically; stay plugged in.
- Remain in My love. Keep My commands, not because you must, but because you love. I give them to you out of My love for you; keep them out of your love for Me.
- Remain keeping this uppermost in your mind: love others as I have loved you.
- Remain a vine that draws from love, blossoms with love, and bears the fruit of love. Other loves bear fruit that is temporary. Love for Me, drawn from Me and sustained by Me, bears fruit that will last through eternity.
There are a lot of “remains” in John 15. Remain connected to Jesus. Remain connected to His Word. Both of these take vigilance and obedience. But for me, the very best is the third “remain”: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
What an amazing statement! Jesus loves me as much as God loves Him! Who wouldn’t want to remain in that kind of love?
So why don’t I? Because reaching for other things can work me loose from my connection to the vine. I can only keep my attachment secure by actively reinforcing it. I have to guard against the blights of worry, fear, and being drawn to other loves. These can diminish or cut off my connection with Jesus.
It’s when I’m immersed in the full flow of His love for me that I’m filled with love for Jesus. It’s that love, love for Jesus, that produces love for each other. That’s the first and most important fruit we grow from our Christ-connection.
Love is the connective tissue that supports all the other fruits of the Spirit. It’s the daily nourishment that sustains, and the enduring beauty of fruit that will last.
Father, Your love is as welcome as it is undeserved. I pray for Your prompting when my connection with You gets loose. May I stay immersed in Your love, buoyed by Your Spirit, and pouring out to others in Your will. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.