“Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
~John 15:4 (TEV).
The vineyard imagery is thick with meaning. Essentially we’re reliant on God if we hope to live a fruitful life. This verse of Scripture might be more a reminder against idolatry — our virulent foolishness in walking away from God even for a moment — than anything else.
God – the Source
The life that comes from God’s Spirit into our lives is a source of sustenance that we were never meant to be without. Sure, we can fill our lives with all manner of ‘stuff’ and we can go moments, days, weeks, months, years, and entire lifetimes without even taking a moment to genuinely pause and challenge ourselves to this.
God gives us the choice.
Emptiness is one sign; busyness another. Still further, an absence of feeling or a reticence to feel; feelings like these are rejected because of the innate awkwardness we experience. The more vacancy we feel the more, ironically, we run from God — the only One who can address our spiritual vacancy.
We All Walk Away
This is as much a problem for the believer as it is for the non-believer of God. Truly, it’s every bit as much, without a skerrick of exaggeration. Humbling reality, isn’t it?
The believer might believe in God, but if they don’t place their lived-out faith in this Spirit raising sons and daughters to royalty — the want for a noble life of giving — they won’t draw on God’s power for life. This is staying unified in the Vine; a daily, moment-by-moment re-commitment to trusting God by obeying him.
The Way Back Home
Jesus knew that we’d walk away. He was reminded many times how strangely incoherent his own disciples were. We too are strangely incoherent. It’s okay. God knows it’s our nature. God knows we need reminding constantly; to draw close in unification to the Vine.
God always promises to draw in toward us as a response to our drawing close to God (James 4:8). This is immediately beneficial to both us and ultimately for others too.
Not only are we reliant on the Vine of God for our spiritual security and wellbeing we’re also reliant on this vital connection for our further fruitfulness, which is blessing unto others’ lives. And we can only ever feel worthy about ourselves when we’re developing ourselves in the Lord, selflessly giving to others, and doing these for God and from no other motive at all — as far as that’s achievable for us.
Our task today: find the Vine. Re-connect. Remain connected. Enjoy fellowship with God.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: The Vine Bud.