Have you ever formed a relationship with someone or with an organization that you regretted? We have all had relationships with people or organizations that have not been good for us. Unhealthy connections lead to unhealthy fruit in our lives.
But healthy connections are good for us. Healthy families, healthy institutions of learning, healthy churches, healthy relationships and more. However, no matter how good these connections are for us, people will let us down, organizations will change, and time will change us and our needs.
However, Jesus offers us a relationship that has the power to give us everything we need or ever will need, and a relationship that will never change. Sadly, so few people fully understand the total dependency that we have in our relationship with Jesus.
In John 15 verse 1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine…” Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches, but it wasn’t a new picture for the Children of Israel (see Psalm 80:8-9). The vine metaphor was understood by Jews in the First Century as referring to Israel. Jesus takes the metaphor and applies it to himself, referring to himself as the “true” vine, and not just any vine.
Jesus uses the Greek word for “abide” or “remain” ten times in these few verses. The Greek word means to stay and commit to a specific relationship or location. In this context, it means to remain in fellowship with Christ, so that his life can work in and through us to produce fruit (See John 15:4). Jesus said, “abide in me…” commit to remaining in my presence.
But then Jesus makes a commitment to abide in us. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you…” What a wonderful promise. As we commit to remain in Jesus, making him lord of our lives, he commits to remaining with us. A promise that he will never break.
In Genesis 3, there was a separation caused by the first sin that removed mankind from abiding with God. Jesus repairs the separation, but more than that, he promises to give us his Spirit. The fellowship and intimacy we are offered is closer than we could ever imagine.
The apostle Paul frequently used the words, “In Christ” in his letters. What does that mean, and how do we experience the fullness of being in Christ?
The most crucial part of understanding this is knowing where we are. As followers of Jesus, we need to know where we are positionally. Paul makes this clear in Romans 6 where he writes about the reality and the necessity of being dead to sin, and alive in Christ. (See Romans 6:1-5).
Being in Christ, is positional. We are, as followers of Jesus, positioned in Christ by his righteousness. So that when God the Father looks at us, he sees us covered by the righteousness of Christ.
So how do we live from that position? How do we abide in Christ?
John 15 gives us two critical ways of abiding in Christ.
The first way is found in John 15 verse 3 and 7, in verse 7 Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Here we have an instruction and a promise. The instruction is to abide in the word (See Psalm 119:11). His words are to remain in us. We are to keep them in our lives, to build our lives upon them, to be obedient to them. When we take time to meditate on God’s word, to listen to God, to reflect on it and allow it to instruct us, we strengthen our ‘abiding’ with Jesus. As we do this, we become more aware of our position, who we really are as children of God.
As we meditate and feed on the the written word of God, the Holy Spirit in us, takes the word and makes it come alive and active, making it the Rhema word of God to us. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”
Secondly, we abide by obeying His Commands (John 15:10).
Jesus says in these verses that through obedience we remain in his love. This is not obedience out of duty or law, rather as we grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus, we desire to do what he wants us to do, and we naturally find Joy in obedience. Jesus wants us to experience the fullness of his joy in this life, and an essential part of this is found in keeping his commandments.
So how can we know that we are abiding in Christ? What is the fruit that Jesus talks about in John 15:5?
There are several different kinds of spiritual fruit named in the Bible.
We bear fruit when we win others to Christ. As we grow in holiness and obedience, we bear fruit of the evidence of the presence of God. We have the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–23). The kind of Christian character that glorifies God and makes Christ real to others.
Along with producing healthy fruit there is the pruning (See John 15:1-2).
Jesus is the true vine, and the Father is the Vinedresser. The Vinedresser must prune the branches to keep the vineyard healthy. We don’t like that, and when we are pruned, we sometimes get angry at God. He may remove things from our lives that we like, things that we think are essential, but God knows they are holding us back from producing more fruit. Any sin (dead branches) in our lives will be dealt with by God because of His love for us.
Sometimes God removes seemingly good things in our lives for us to become more fruitful.
What is God pruning in your life today?
What is the fruit that Jesus is producing in your life as you are abiding in him?