I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener...
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:1, 5
As I sit to begin this thought, a bowl of sweet grapes sits in front of me. Refreshing. Satisfying. Sweet. Good to eat. For someone trying to eat a bit healthier, fruit is my candy of choice these days. “Good calories.” Nutritional. So, of course, as I type the above passage, focusing on a new “I Am” of Jesus, it’s the word fruit that draws my attention. I want to be what fruit is to others. As I begin to unpeel the layers of the onion that is Peg Forrest, what I hope people around me see at the very core are those same descriptive phrases. It would be my desire that when I’m gone, those who knew me best might say about me such things: Refreshing! Sweet! Soul satisfying! Her words were “good calories, nutritional” to the heart.
For this to be true, the key, then, is found in clinging tightly to, abiding in, being closely connected to the true vine. Without that “connectedness,” what I want is not what I will get. Apart from him, I can “be” nothing; I can “do” nothing. He is the only possibility for anything good to spring out of my life. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine (verse 4).”
These questions naturally follow:
What does it mean to remain/abide?
How does this look, practically speaking?
Obviously, my research took me to Galatians 5:16-25, because sandwiched in this passage is the “good fruit” of those who belong to Christ Jesus. I see a couple of repeated phrases which are in contrast to one another: live by the Spirit (16, 18, 25) vs. gratifying the desires of the sinful nature (16, 19, 24). These are “in conflict with one another, so that we do not do what we want (17).” I am a simple gal – so, in simple terms, I find two simple answers to the above two questions.
1) In John 15, Jesus connects his abiding word as a critical piece to the abiding Christian (15:7).
2) In Galatians 5, Paul, through the Holy Spirit, reminds the abiding Christian that to be fruitful one has to “keep in step with the Spirit.” This occurs when the sinful desires are crucified and replaced with the abiding word. Only then do we allow the life giving spiritual sap the ability to produce what we want to see in our lives: refreshing, soul-satisfying, candy-sweet fruit!
So, being in the Word and out of the flesh allows me to stay in the abiding presence of the true vine. Apart from him, there is no fruit.
Connected – nothing is impossible!