Yesterday I walked outside at 5:15 am to go to my men’s bible study and was absolutely astounded by the stars in the sky. I live in the country and intentionally have my yard light off. I have no neighboring lights shining. All was pitch black except the stars. It was breathtaking. So, much so, that I didn’t pay close attention and hit a deer with my truck only a few yards from my house. Wrecked my grill, but I now have venison. I don’t blame God for that. I should have been more attentive to the ditches.
I’ve been reminded of John 15 quite a bit lately. What a wonderful section of scripture. The images Jesus uses of the vine, branches, and the vinedresser allow us to see just how interconnected he intends us to be with him. We aren’t supposed to have a church life and our other life. We aren’t supposed to interact with God as we would by simply taking our bibles off the shelf from time to time. No, we are designed, by God himself, to walk with him in all our affairs throughout the day, continually. We aren’t supposed to go through any of our life alone. We aren’t meant to. We have not been designed to. Jesus was clear. We can do no fruitful thing apart from him (John 15:5). When we try, we are using his product (our very lives) and using them for unintended purposes. It’s like a piano player trying to make music with a hammer and saw. It just won’t work. Are we surprised, then, that we are frustrated, discouraged, and lonely?
What does all this mean, bearing fruit and abiding in Jesus? Let me put the passage here for easy reference. It’s a tongue-twister, but worth it.
John 15:1-17 “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 work 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. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Remember, this passage is for believers. The pruning he refers to is not unbelievers but rather the junk in your life that needs to go. In a nutshell, sin. He takes this away so that it doesn’t interfere with our relationship with Him. Yes, we may resist, but that’s only hurts us. God keeps pruning anyway. He’ll first take away your joy and peace. Then the rest of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He may then need to inflict pain and so on. Let’s not fight him on this. Give it up and go with the program. You’ll be glad you did.
Still, what does all this abide stuff mean? I suppose it’s like falling in love. Do you all remember that? Remember how your life intertwined with one another so that no matter what you did, you did it with the other, even if you were apart? I think it’s kind of like that. Now, recalling our relationships with others may not bring up good memories. Some have had very bad relationships. Others have had theirs go cold. That’s humans neglecting what God has intended. Look to what God intends. For me, abiding in Christ has much the same feel as that with new-found love, except that Jesus will never disappoint. Never.
So, it seems we would be wise to enjoy this relationship by reading and studying our bibles, by listening to good, Christian music, by listening to good preaching on the radio and TV, by praying continually throughout the day, by going to church and small groups. When we do these things, not out of routine but because we are seeking Jesus, we find everything about us changes. We see Jesus in all of our comings and goings. We start experiencing exceeding and abounding love that we simply will not be able to contain. That love will then touch other people. We will want to share that which we have found. We will look past offenses knowing there is a much bigger picture. Folks, we will make a difference in the lives of people, not because of who we are but because of who Jesus is and what he is doing in our lives.
Then we can ask him. For anything. That’s a blank check, folks, one Jesus gives when he knows we will use it to buy that which our Father desires for us. We know that he answers prayer. I wonder what would happen if we started praying that we may love so much that we might impact others simply because they noticed our love. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it does to me.
Father, take away all the garbage in my life. Prune my dead branches so that I may focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Let me relish the thought that I am the apple of your eye and that you are simply crazy in love with me. Let me love you in the same way. Let me then go about my day, with you, to see whose lives I may touch simply by sharing that which you have so freely shared with me. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers