Text: John 15:1-27, Zephaniah 3:14-17
I’m the queen of focusing on the wrong things.
My daughter makes an amazing piece of 9-year-old art and declares it dedicated to her mom (that’s me!)—and I silently lament the sea of paper covering the floor and the glue stick smashed into all the creases of the dining room table.
A long-lost friend says she and her family are coming to visit for a weekend—and I spend more time worrying about the condition of the guest room than rejoicing in the long conversations and late-night laughter to come.
My husband spends hours creating new storage solutions for our mudroom (slash laundry room, slash pantry, slash coat closet, slash place the dog stays during dinner so he won’t eat food off our plates)—and I involuntarily scowl that my tired, dirty, three-compartment clothes hamper will no longer fit. (Three compartments! You can understand my sadness.)
And here, in John chapter 15, Jesus says this:
“Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me”
(vv. 4-5, emphasis mine).
This is what He says. But do you know what I hear? I hear, “Bear fruit.” Or, to be more specific, “Hey, you, why aren’t you bearing fruit?” I, the Queen of Focusing On The Wrong Things, read Jesus’ words and hear all of the goal and none of the grace. I want the end but forget the means.
Yes, bear fruit. Yes, love others. Yes, give grace to a world that will misunderstand and even hate us. But look back through John 15. Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to remain. When we remain—when we abide in the never-ending, unconditional, forever love of Christ—then the fruit will come.
We bear fruit when, and only when, we are grafted into the True Vine. His Holy Spirit in us is the fruit producer; we are simply the branches who have the privilege of displaying His fruit.
Jesus Christ comes to make us new. He comes to redeem the dead branches that we are and give us abundant life! Remaining in Him—resting, dwelling, abiding in Him—is the only source of our strength, our goodness, our fruit.
Let’s focus our eyes on the True Vine today. Let’s be about the business of remaining in Jesus, and trust His Spirit to be about the business of bearing fruit in our lives.
Lord, teach us what it means to remain when all we want to do is produce. Help us to rest in your never-stopping love. Amen.