This is taped onto my kitchen window frame. You like the designer tape? I stole it from the girls’ craft box, but whatever. I needed it in front of my face.
John 15’s “vine and branches” passage can bring to mind charming English gardens and white trellises with lush vines. I think “dead branch”–which is what I am when I’m not abiding or trusting in Christ.
We run around, trying to get things done, trying to make life “right,” trying to fix all our people and problems and control the whole world–with not a prayer lifted to heaven or humble request for God’s perspective. Been there. Today.
That’s why I need this jarring yet encouraging truth: 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 (Jn. 15:4).
I had a hibiscus on my deck this summer with a slightly broken branch. It was still in position, but it wasn’t getting water or nourishment from the trunk. It looked great for a while, living on its own resources, but slowly it just dried up and withered away so I yanked it off and tossed it.
I thought about this passage as I did it, realizing I’m really not going to produce anything of lasting value on my own, hard as I try.
So what do I find encouraging about this truth? It’s an INVITATION. Come on in, Jesus tells us. Tap into my strength. Benefit from my life. Stop pretending you don’t need me. Your leaves are turning brown. Come on in and abide and find real life! Then watch the real fruit grow.
You’ve gotta read the rest of the chapter because it’s incredible, jammed with sober warnings and lavish promises. Then we can remind each other that:
We may be able to fake if for a while, but in our own strength, we are withering branches. As we abide in Christ–trusting him, talking to him, worshiping him, believing him–we find life! We bear fruit! We grow and flourish for his glory.
It’s a good fact to have fluttering at my window every morning, designer tape and all.