During the previous few weeks, we looked at the Transformed Life, by walking through some verses in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome (Romans 12). As I prayed about this next period of Friday Focus posts, my mind kept going to the words of Jesus in John 15. After all, how can we live the Transformed Life, if we’re not remaining in him?
If you enjoy and practice scripture memorization, I cannot recommend any other chapter as highly as I do this one. To speak these verses is to speak the words of Christ. They are words of comfort, encouragement, exhortation and hope. They carry such weight and worth.
Let’s begin. We’re going to take them four verses at a time each week, but I encourage you to stop and read all of John 15.
Here are verses 1 through 4, in the New International Version:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I love grapes and grape vines. When we lived in Beirut, Lebanon, our house had several grape vines on the property. I learned a lot about them during those years of watching the gardener care for them.
Did you catch that? Care for them.
Yes, grape vines take care. There are so many pests that would just love to attack not just the fruit, but the leaves. I should know, because when we moved back to the United States, my husband planted two grape vines in our backyard — yes, in Tennessee. The only problem was — I wasn’t a gardener. I did not care for my vines — so everything attacked, from disease to bugs, birds and squirrels. One vine pretty much shriveled up; the other kept producing leaves, but the fruit left a lot to be desired — pretty fruitless, actually.
So, when I hear Jesus go into so much detail about what Father Gardener does to his vine, I’m not surprised — it’s a lot of work to maintain that vine, to keep it in shape to produce fruit.
Then I think about what he’s got to work with. I mean, I’m one of those branches that’s poking my head out from the main stalk trying to grab hold and do my thing. I can readily admit that I haven’t always been very fruitful. I know the pain of the pruning shears. I think about what needed clipping from my life — the sin, self-serving attitude, weakness and fear that hindered me from bringing glory to God. He had every right to nip it in the bud.
I’m just glad he lets me remain a part of the vine. I cannot do this alone. Any good in my life is because of Christ. It’s him working through me.
My fruit may not be vast in quantity, but I am determined to remain in him. I’ll rely on him doing the rest.
After all, he is the only True Vine.
Are you remaining in Him? Are you even part of the Vine? Don’t let a little pruning stop you from holding on.
It’s in the pruning that the producing is sure to come.
Grace and Peace