Published in the Owatonna People’s Press; May 16, 2015
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15: 4-5
A branch has only a single item in its job description: To stay connected to its vine. That’s all it is called on to do. And if it does, fruit grows.
My tendency is to want to control. From beginning end; from idea to final product; I want to make sure that my vision is carried out, and that the “product” (whatever it may be) is exactly the way I want it to be. But there is a problem with this perspective: I’m only a branch. I’m not the vine. I’m not the fruit. I’m not the leaves, nor the sun nor the water that bring life. And I’m certainly not the vinegrower. Jesus is reminding us in John 15 that we are merely the branches. Or as a good friend of mine frequently says, “God is God, and I am not.”
And branches have only a single task: To stay connected. Everything else is up to God. God is the one who brings life, who nurtures and who grows the fruit. God may use us as mechanisms for the production of fruit. But we don’t do produce fruit ourselves.
To be connected to God is to be aware of the presence of God within your life in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions. It is to nurture a relationship with God through prayer, worship and the reading of scripture. To be connected to God is to be a vital and dynamic part of the community, reaching out to those in need. To be connected to God is to build bridges and to take down those things that separate us from others. It is to recognize that God always calls us to unite, never to divide.
Jesus equates this sense of connection with “abiding” in Him; literally to dwell within Him. In this sense, connecting with God isn’t an activity or an event, it is a lifestyle.
We only have one job: to stay connected. We nurture the connection that comes as a gift from God, and we stay connected to each other. Everything else flows from there. Let go of your need to control (and I’ll try and do the same!) and trust in God who does the work, and who grows the fruit.