The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Would you like to know the secret to spiritual growth? Do you want to know how to find the peace and joy that so many are looking for? Here it is. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I also remain in you.” The secret of spiritual growth is this: to remain in Christ. The original Greek word for “remain” is “menó” which means to stay, abide, remain. It brings a connotation of stillness, consistently remaining in one place, and trust in that place as the right place to be. Jesus tells us this “place” where we should remain is in his love. And in doing so, we will produce great fruit and our “joy will be complete.” We are like a vine that must remain in one place, rooted in the soil of love. The love that God gave to Jesus, he now gives to us.
Many people forget where they are to remain. They try to be a Christian on their own power and will. That can work for a short time, but eventually, we all need the energy, power and grace that can only come from love, God’s great, unconditional, mighty, merciful, all-encompassing love. When this is our daily source of “nutrition” we can do anything God calls us to. And what God calls us all to do, every day, is to love. That is still the greatest commandment. When Jesus gave those instructions to love in Matthew 22, he told us to love God with our whole selves first, because that is how we abide or remain in the midst of love. And then he gave us the second commandment to love others. This had to be second to loving God because we simply don’t have the human power to love others all the time, every day, the way God loves us.
So how do we stay in God’s love? This is where the effort comes in. God will continually call you into love, but you have to turn toward it. God will never force you to love. So develop the disciplines that keep you rooted in the soil of love. Make time to read the Bible and pray every day. Worship God regularly. Be part of a community of faith both large and small. Allow others to remind you of God’s love. If you are too busy for all of this, then you will be too busy to love.
Here is the deal, if you will focus on this one thing, abiding or remaining in the midst of God’s love, you will be able to love that person who drives you crazy. You will grow in your faith. You will stay on the path God calls you to. And though this will not make life any easier, it will bring much more joy and peace. Being rooted in love produces the best fruit and the most beautiful flowers. Are you producing the fruit of love God asks of you? If not, try establishing your roots.
Heavenly Creator, Thank you for the pattern of new life you set in the world. Thank you that all of life is redeemable. Create in me a renewed spirit, new life, growth toward your righteousness. Keep me rooted in your love. Find in me the least desirable parts and let your light shine on them for healing and redemption. I am yours completely, Lord. May your will be done in my life each day. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.