I am the true vine….Jesus often used the simplest words and images to communicate the deepest truths of God’s love for us. In John 15 are some of the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples before he was betrayed, arrested and crucified. They were words of invitation and hope, of deep communion and lasting relationships, of painful “pruning” that blossoms into bountiful fruitfulness. They were, on a very dark night, words of light and love.
Abide in me as I abide in you…The call to “abide,” or remain, in Christ can be seen as a word of reassurance and promise to the church. It brings reassurance because it illuminates Christ’s faithfulness toward the church—no matter what happens next he will continue to abide with us. It also brings the promise of communion with God that will result in fruitful, bountiful, even joyful lives.
Some may be tempted to ask How can I bear sure I will bear fruit? What part of my life will have to be pruned? Will I miss the things that are taken away? When will I know if I’m doing it right? The word of Christ to these questions is simple and clear: abide in me. As long as a branch remains in the vine, fruit will appear in season. For it is the vine that produces the fruit, and the branch that bears it forth to the world. Branches do not conjure their own fruit, nor can Christians produce anything of their own. God produces fruit in us, and we bring it forth to God’s glory.
The Christian faith is an exercise in abiding…it is a living relationship. Not once in a lifetime, but every morning, we rise to live as Christ’s disciples in this world. Not once, but every hour throughout the day, we listen—to scripture, to friends, to the witness of God’s Holy Spirit, to the inquisitiveness of our own minds—hoping to hear a living Word and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, so that we may be more faithful. Not once, but every night, we lie down to rest ourselves trusting not in our righteousness, but in the saving grace of Jesus our Lord.
Abiding in Christ is as natural as a plant soaking up water from the soil, or basking in sunlight on a pleasant afternoon. It can be as easy as breathing in and breathing out…all the while submitting to a faithful God, who cleanses us in order to draw us closer in.
February 03, 2016