John 15:4-5. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 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. NLT
Some reflections on Jesus' comments:
- Jesus puts the ball in our court. We choose whether to remain connected to him or not. It's up to us - not him. Yes, if it's going to be, it's up to me.
- IF we remain or abide in him, he promises to do the same to us. It's a covenantal promise of his abiding presence.
- Without constant connection to Jesus, we will not be fruitful. It's an impossibility. The opposite is also true - with constant connection to Jesus, we will be fruitful. It's automatic. A church cannot be fruitful without constant connection to Jesus. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. In fact, we will wither and die. Connected to Jesus (being), we will bear "much fruit" (doing).
- The tense of the verb "remain" here is: active and imperative. It literally means, "I command you (something requiring urgent attention and action; a necessity, an obligation, a requirement) to make every effort to keep connected to me!"
- The verb is also in the plural form (literally: "All of you together ... remain in me"). Together we are to make every effort to keep connected to Jesus and if we do, he promises to remain or abide in us (his community of people). This is a communal responsibility and experience. He is the vine (or root) and we are the branches. He is our Head and we are his body.
- This entire teaching from Jesus is not primarily about personal spirituality but, rather, it is about life in the new community of faith - the church. How often we individualize these teachings of Jesus.
- Later on, we learn that the way (means) to remain in Jesus is through love (friendship) and obedience to His commands (Jn.15:9-10).
- Jesus also teaches us that the Father "prunes" fruitful trees so that they will bear even more fruit. Have you been experiencing some pruning of late? I have and I think our church has too.
May we are a community of Christ-followers learn to abide in Christ more and more each day.