As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. - John 15:9
If you have attended church very long, you probably have heard a sermon on John 15 about "Abiding in the Vine." It is a fantastic passage of Scripture and Jesus lays out a complicated truth through an interesting word picture. Most of the sermons I have heard on this passage can normally be outlined like this:
- Jesus is the Vine,
- The Father is the Vinedresser,
- It is your responsibility to abide, and
- This is how you abide.
In the past, I have been quick to run past the Vine and the Vinedresser. "I overlook the truth that it's His power that births and sustains the entire plant. He's supplying all that's necessary for my growth and fruitfulness. It's His life, His purpose, His determination to be in union with me that's the central point of this teaching." When I am abiding in the vine, the Vine is producing fruit in me. It is not me relying on myself, but allowing the Vine to produce fruit in me and through me. God has the ability to transform, while my self-driven efforts will never produce fruit.
Instead of rejoicing in the work of the Vinedresser, I easily become the "comparing Christian" and wonder why God is "pruning him or her" or ask why I am not bearing fruit like that other person? It is also easy to become a little judgemental and say God should just cut him or her off of the vine, they are not bearing any fruit. It is like I want the role of the Vinedresser and choose who should be connected to the Vine. In the past, I have completely missed the point. God would prune me in order that I may bear more fruit for His glory. Jesus is the Vine to which I am attached and He is my life-sustainer.
When we get to the point of trusting in the work of the Vine and the Vinedresser, we can rest in the promise of verse 9. Jesus is telling us how the Father loves Him and in turn, Jesus loves us the same way. Jesus is calling us to continue in this personal love relationship with Him. "Yes, He is calling us to a life of obedience, but it isn't an obedience that starts with our great efforts. It is an obedience that He has planted and now lovingly tends as we absorb His soul-nourishing life." Today, I rejoice that He causes my obedience to grow. I challenge myself as I challenge you today - "Rest here. Endure here. Remain here. Tarry here. Abide in the Vine."