How much help do you need?
John 15 verse 1-8. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will 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. 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
"Since you can do nothing how much help do you need? Apart from me you can do nothing. When Jesus says nothing he literally means nothing. Jesus doesn't divide life into the sacred and the secular, this you can do and this you need me for. He's not just talking about spiritual fruit, ministry, spiritual gifts. He's talking about the whole of life, your very existence. Everything in your life, from your next breath, idea, capacity to do your job, love your kids, your husband or wife, and the community etc. Everything is sustained, maintained and kept alive and in motion by Jesus.
Jesus says "I am the vine". That’s Jesus’ identity statement, all life, strength, capacity flows from Him. That’s who I am in this relationship. We don't provide Him with capacity, strength, or ability. The believers identity is to be a branch. Life flows from Him to us. We get to display the fruit of our connection.
Jesus says I have chosen you to bear fruit. The branches do not provide anything. Everything begins in His initiative. It’s not our job to fix ourselves, DIY morality, self modification, white knuckles. Jesus is the source of all life and fruitfulness. All change, transformation flows from Him to us.
John 15 is not about salvation but about fruit bearing. Jesus is describing the kind of attachment and relationship we are invited to enjoy. He is faithful, He won’t let go. He always remains. But we are not passive and powerless in this relationship. So He asks us a genuine question. He won’t control us. He has chosen us and in return we get to choose him back, we are invited to want and desire connection, 'if you remain in me", remaining, abiding, resting, trusting, delighting, making our home in Him, these are all things we get to choose and prioritise. Life is flowing from His side, but we get to choose whether or not we want to receive it and and enjoy that life by living relationally, dependant, and trusting. Christianity is not the theory of relationship, the analysis of connection. But the actual enjoyment of it.
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Jamie Lee, 03/06/2018