“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
To abide means “to remain.” The picture of abiding in Christ is revealed clearly in the analogy Jesus gives us of the vine and the branches. Jesus says of Himself that He is the vine and we are the branches. We have been grafted onto and connected into the Vine through the work of the cross. Anything that could have hindered us from abiding in this unchanging God has been removed, and now there is no longer any need or reason to be separated.
Whatever is connected to this Vine remains in a perpetual state of being alive. We are supplied with the same lives that the Vine has. We are able to make our life count with fruit that lasts when we abide in Christ.
If we, as the branches, keep removing ourselves from the Vine, then our fruitfulness and our sense of life will change. We become “vineless Christians.” We look like and even sound like Christians, but we have no connection to Christ Himself. It is such a big deal for Jesus that He says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
There is no middle ground in that statement. We could be achieving fruit that the world likes, but it’s not fruit that remains. Jesus challenges us to the core with this statement because how He views success and how we might view success are very different. There can be a staggering difference between what we think is lasting and what He knows will remain.
As we connect to Jesus the Vine today we may find that certain things that were important become less important. We may find that the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, begin to be our gauge on success. Just as it is beautiful to see a branch produce fruit, the beautiful thing about abiding in Christ is that the branch does not struggle to produce these things for the branch’s connection to the vine guarantees its health and life.
The question therefore is, “What are we connected to?” The Vine we are invited to connect with today is unchanging—it always has life, it will always produce fruit, it will always be a fruitful vine. Jesus is that Vine, and He is the one who invites us to connect to Him. If a vine had a root system that kept changing, that was unstable, then the branches connected to that vine would certainly struggle to remain alive. But praise be to God that we have a Vine that is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every life that has ever connected to this Vine has never been disappointed. The same Vine that produced the fruit of the apostles’ life is available to us. The same Vine that the great men and women of old, through the centuries, connected to is still available to us. It’s the same Vine because He does not change.
Will you abide in Him? Will you make the choice to connect? May we remain in this unchanging Vine today and forevermore, letting Him produce fruit that counts and lasts for His glory and His Kingdom!