Vine Life is the best. As Jesus shared the wonders of this intimate relationship with those first disciples, I’m standing right there with them in awestruck amazement that he would allow me to be part of his vineyard.
As we’ve walked through the fifteenth chapter of John, we’re reminded that fruitfulness requires pruning, but it’s that fruit that proves we’re united with the Christ Vine in the first place. In his own, gentle way, he tells us that only in this abiding relationship can we know joy that’s truly complete, finding our satisfaction in him alone. Leaning into the Vine, our God chooses us, not as servants, but friends — another concept so radical from all other religions; yet, our friendship is not just to chill with Jesus, but to live with purpose.
Today’s passage takes a turn, and it’s a bit painful. Let’s read the next several verses:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”*
Vine Life is not just a choice on God’s part, but on ours. Yet with any choice, there is the inherent knowledge that in choosing one thing, you are saying “no” to another.
For those of us who dwell in the Vine, we say “no” to the world, and that comes with consequences.
For all the love we find in Christ — the love that led him to sacrifice himself on our behalf — hate is hurled our way from the world, because we made a choice between the two: Christ over the world.
But Jesus says, hang in there — KEEP IN MIND. IT HATED ME FIRST.
What does that mean? Don’t get too upset about what the world slings at you. It’s to be expected, see? He told you to keep it in mind, remember, don’t forget — Jesus was hated a full 2000 years before you! He took the brunt, the full Monty that all the world, led by Satan, could throw at a person — scorn, shame, beating, crucifixion. He took it all, all that hatred, so you could let it slide off your back.
You’re abiding in him, remember? He’s got better things for you than the stupid things the world runs after. They can’t stand it when you are calm in the midst of the storm; when you have peace beyond all understanding, and when you love those who hate you.
They hate you for no reason — but there really is a reason, and his name is Jesus.
Just remember, if you’re clinging to the Vine, you’re living according to his principles, his standard. Don’t get dismayed by the ways of this world and the hatred that is so easily flung about. Don’t get caught up in it either and let down your love guard.
If you do, there might be some more pruning required to produce fruit that brings God glory. Hang in there – abide in him.
And KEEP IN MIND what he said.
Grace and Peace
John 15:18-21 (NIV)