“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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.” John 15:1-4
There are many metaphors in Scripture that paint for us a vivid picture of what it means to daily walk by faith. The metaphor outlined in John 15, relative to “the vine and the branch,” is one of the most prominent. Yet, this text highlights a difficult challenge we face; in remaining deeply connected to Christ so that we might embrace the fullness of His joy and the abundance of His grace.
The image of the vine and the branch provides an outward symbol of an internal connection that, for the believer, cannot and must not be broken. A branch cut off from the vine cannot produce fruit or contribute anything of value for that matter. A branch cannot provide nourishment for itself – it must seek such nourishment from an outside source. One of the challenges of living in a country like America is we are presented with several “sources” every day. Each one vying for our attention, seeking to convince us what they offer will satisfy our souls. A key question each committed believer must wrestle with is, “What is the source of my nourishment?” If that source is anything other than Christ, we are in danger of becoming a dead branch.
Take a few minutes to evaluate your source or sources of daily nourishment. Is Christ your only source, or do you have competing idols seeking to convince you that they will satisfy your soul?
John Piper, (in a message on abiding in Christ), frames it this way. “I think the essential meaning of our active abiding is the act of receiving and trusting all that God is for us in Christ. If a branch remains, or abides, attached to the vine in such a way that it is receiving all that the branch has to give, then that is a picture of what John means by believing or trusting Jesus. He says in John 1:12, “To all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Believing is a receiving of Christ into the soul, welcoming Him, trusting Him, as it were, drinking and eating, and savoring Him. This is what he says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Believing is an attachment to — a coming to — Jesus, and a receiving from Jesus. It is trusting in Jesus. It is remaining in fellowship with Jesus. It is connecting with Jesus so that all that God is for us in Him is flowing like a life-giving sap into our lives. That’s number one: abiding is believing, trusting, savoring, resting, receiving.”
I resonate with John Piper’s description here of “life-giving sap into our lives.” I immediately think of the “God-shaped hole” all of us have in our souls. We were created by God and for God, with the need for a deep, abiding, life-giving connection with him.
On a scale of 1-10, to what degree would you say that you are “believing, trusting, savoring, resting, and receiving” Christ daily into your heart and soul?
If your rating is an eight or higher, what is it that is keeping you from connecting with Christ? How could you further strengthen these disciplines or practices in your life?
If you are a seven or lower, what is it that is causing you to feel “cut off” from the daily nourishment that you need in Christ? How could that begin to change for you this week?
As you wrap up some thoughts on this necessity of “abiding,” pray that God would reveal to you this day (and throughout this week) how you could further deepen your connection with Christ, our true vine. Pray for a specific action step that you are willing to initiate in response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction on this Scriptural truth.