I have been told repeatedly of the importance of abiding in the Vine. Time and time again people have told me that I am the branch, Christ is the Vine, and apart from him I can do nothing. So how do you abide in the Vine then? How does one abide in Christ? The other day I was up before breakfast, writing in my journal. It was during the sleepy hour of 5:30am that I penned my heart out before the Lord. The living room lamp on the desk gently glowed over my journal and I. My Bible sat next to me quiet and unopened. The sun had yet to rise and the dorm had yet to come alive with the bumblings of groggy young men. All was silent except for the nip and scratch of pen ravaging paper.
I was writing to God about how I didn’t understand this idea of abiding in him. I knew how important it was, but I didn’t know how to do it.
I approached different people and asked them how to abide in the Vine. The answers varied. Some took it as an unknowable pursuit of a deep understanding, others took it as a lifelong learning process, others told me it simply meant spending time with God. None of these answers satisfied. I still found myself searching for some kind of tangible answer.
I know it involves more than reading the Bible (reading the Bible doesn’t authenticate a relationship with God) and spending time with God seems too vague in my mind. I think Jesus was being a bit more cut and dry than we give him credit for. I don’t think Jesus was talking about a lifelong pursuit of us figuring out what it means to abide in him. Remember John 15:6, if we don’t abide in him, we’re toast. We shrivel up and die. So we need to get this right because our life is on the line! Don’t treat this as something that you can pass by without knowing. Jesus assured us that if you don’t do this, you’ll grow dry and get cut off, which is bad.
One morning I read John 15:1-17 again and noticed something I hadn’t before. This passage is Jesus telling of a chain of events from the end to the beginning:
(15:5,8) We bring God glory by bearing fruit.We bear fruit by abiding in the Vine.
(15:9-10) We remain in Christ by obeying his commands.
(15:12,17) Christ’s command is this: love one another.
Do you see the simplicity of it? If we love others then we are obeying Christ’s command, if we obey Christ’s command then we remain in his love, if we remain in his love then we abide in the Vine, if we abide in the Vine then we bear fruit, and if we bear fruit we bring glory to God!
It’s simple, oh so simple! Love! That’s where it begins! No longer can we look at this idea of abiding as some whimsical mystery. The fruit of the Spirit is in tandem with obeying the command to love God and love others. How cut and dry! how cliche! Yet it is so true!