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I recently cleared out the remnants of last summer’s tomato vines from my garden. It should have been done months ago, but my delay left me with easy work. The once strong and sturdy green vines withered over the winter. The brown remains were dry and limp and turned to dust as I pulled them out.
That’s the thing about vines. Once they dry and wither, they have no purpose. A dead tree can be used for a myriad of items: paper, furniture, flooring. Entire houses can be built with their remains. However, a vine has no strength when it’s detached from its source. It’s only good for the rubbish pile.
Jesus used this imagery to explain what we become when we fail to abide in Him. He told his disciples on the eve of His death:
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. (John 15:5–8)
Jesus warns us that apart from Him, we can do nothing. On our own, we are completely devoid of strength. We need an eternal source so that we can have abundant and continual fruit.
He also directs us to the method of our abiding. We build a life centered on our relationship with Jesus. We make time for Him, each and every day. We meet with Him in His Word, meditating on it day and night. Jesus speaks to us the truth our souls need to hear. We take Him in like water for our thirsty souls. While the world seeks to conform us to its pattern, Jesus seeks to transform us by the renewal of our minds.
Jesus speaks to us in His Word and He invites us to speak back to Him through prayer. Abiding not only renews our minds—it transforms our desires. We begin to seek more out of life, not less. We want His name to be glorified, His will to be done, His kingdom to come. We hope to bear much fruit, not for our own glory, but to glorify God in all that we do.
Abiding in Jesus also connects us to every other branch. We are not meant to live apart from others any more than we live apart from Jesus. We need one another. We consider the Word together. We celebrate communion together. We meet together, regularly encouraging one another. We love one another. To abide in Christ is to participate in the life of His body, the church.
In Christ, and Christ alone, we find our strength. Whatever it is that needs doing today, make time for Jesus. Do not delay. He’s the only fount that can fill, and the only source that can satisfy. Apart from Him we can do nothing. With Him, we can do all things (Phil. 4:13).