"REMAIN IN ME, AND I WILL REMAIN IN YOU"
Every one of us was made to be a branch. That is the human condition. The clusters that grow in your life will be unique to you. The bends in your life are different from others, the gnarls happen at different places. You may be higher on the vine or lower. But every one of us is dependent on life from somewhere else.
- John Donne: The Reformed Soul.
We cannot generate what we need by ourselves. All of us will attach ourselves to something else as a source of life. And what Jesus said was, "I am the true vine, the one who gives life, the one real source of nutrition, the one who produces real fruit. We can imagine that politics or government might seem life-giving; there are people who give themselves to political change.
When I was in college I had friends who were very serious Marxists. They were sure that the tide of the future was with Marxist thinking. They had attached themselves to Marxism as a source of life, to change the world and establish justice.
Others, in the earliest days of personal computing, hoped that technology was a reliable source of meaning and fulfillment. Celebrities, investment schemes, new religions can appear to offer us what we need. None of these is the true vine.
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The faithless religion of the Jews was not the true vine, and neither is any other religion. Jesus starts this off by saying, "I am the true vine. I'm the one genuine source of life for human hearts. There are two directions in which this keeping on should take place.
First, Jesus said, "I remain in you. I have taken up residence in your life. I've come near to you. I'm committed to you. I've died for you. What sin can you commit that will drive him away? Where can you go that he doesn't go with you? What awful thought can you think that will make him run screaming from your presence?
There is an important passive side to this remaining. We let him love us, believe in his embrace, stop trying to earn his love or change or validate ourselves in his presence. We accept something that's already true, settle down, breathe a sigh of relief, and say, "Abba, Father," smiling for no reason but his presence in our lives. He remains in us, and we are the passive recipients of the grace of God. We cannot earn it, change it, or ruin it. But the other direction of this keeping on is active: Choose to hold tight.
Give priority to the things that matter to me. Do you want to join a small group that offers close and honest fellowship?
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. -John 15:4
Make time for it. Take the steps that you need to take. If God has stirred in you a desire to use spiritual gifts that he's given you, don't hesitate. It's time to admit whatever sinful pattern you're in and break it. It's time to fight back against temptation. Whatever it is that you need to do to remain in him, now is the time. We are both recipients and activists in this business of intimacy with Christ.
The branch receives life from the vine, and the branch draws nutrition from the vine. I got a Palm Pilot this year. I thought it would organize my life, but my lack of organization has just carried over into another piece of technology. Technology does nothing for character. A Palm Pilot is a hand-held computer. It sits in a little cradle that's plugged into the desk top computer. The two devices relay information back and forth. I was sitting at my desk the other day trying to think about "you in me and I in you," this mutual remaining, in which the vine gives life to the branch, and the branch expresses itself drawing on the vine.
I pressed a button that initiates this information transfer, and little arrows appeared, red going one direction and blue the other. It reminded me of what Jesus is trying to say here, that there is a two-way passing of life, his giving us and being for us everything we need, and our expressing back to him love and commitment to him, holding on to him, offering him what we have, expressing our needs and confusions and hurts and fears and hopes.
Each of us remains in the other. A fruitful life The last question we might ask is, fruit comes from the branch that remains in the vine, but what is a fruitful human life like? In the case of Israel the vine, there are a number of passages in the prophets where Israel is called to be a nation that is just and righteous and faithful and worshipful, a people different from all the other nations of earth because their national life is centered on the Lord their God. Jesus is the true vine, and his followers have the same calling to be men and women of justice, righteousness, worship, mercy, and kindness; to be centered on the Lord our God, different from those around us.
But there is an even closer reference in verse 7: Whatever we ask we receive because we are asking according to the will of God.
Remain In Me
We are fruitful people who have been changed by the word of God so that our prayers are filled with who he is, where he's going, and what he's doing. We become people whose prayer lives are vital, speaking about the things that God is doing and hearing back from him. In some ways verse 7 is the opposite of verse 2, " Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy.
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Jesus Says "Remain in Me"
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