“I am the Vine, and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, he it is who bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5
Throughout the New Testament, we are given several metaphors that describe our relation to God and our union with Christ. We are the “household of God” built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, established on the Cornerstone Himself. We are the body of Christ, submitted to the leadership and Lordship of Christ, who is the head over us. We are the children of God, fathered and cared for by the God of the Universe. We are the Bride of Christ, chosen, redeemed, and pursued by the God of love who is jealous for our full affection. We are the sheep, protected and provided for by the Good Shepherd. And finally, we are the branches, fully dependent on a benevolent God for all of life itself.
In every single one of these metaphors is a clear definition of roles. God is represented as our ultimate and sufficient source and we are represented as lowly beneficiaries of His grace, more beholden and needy than we are anything else. There is no getting around the need for dependence in the life of the believer.
While the temptation of the flesh is to believe that we can do all and be all if we are determined enough, the reality of our necessary dependence is actually freeing news! Not having what it takes in and of ourselves to attain the full and abundant lives that our souls desire is good news. Having access to the God of infinite resources to sustain and satisfy every area of our lives is good news.
In John 15, as Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death and giving them their final instruction concerning their mission and calling, He basically tells them if you don’t do anything else, do not neglect to ABIDE in me. Remain in me. Pursue continual communion with me. Talk to me. Draw from me. Be with me. And if you do that, I can give you the assurance that your life will be fruitful for the Kingdom. He does not promise them a life of ease, void of error and trial, but He does promise to be enough. He promises that if they would make it their priority to exist and live out their daily lives in intimate communion with Him, then fruitfulness was a given.
Many of us love the idea of dependence on God but not more than we love our autonomy and control. We want to do our own thing. We want to go our own way. We want to work ourselves to the bone, building our own kingdoms so that we can get all of the glory for doing so. But we were never meant to build kingdoms, we were built to belong to Him and to be upheld by Him.
Christ is inviting us into a better way. A life absolutely fulfilled and sustained by Him, not in theory but in every single waking moment of our lives!
He is inviting us to abide in His Word. To be transformed daily more and more into His image by having our minds renewed in the truths of His word. We abide in His word by daily prioritizing it as our predominant source of wisdom, direction, revelation, and truth.
He is inviting us to abide in Him, as He abides in us. To daily enjoy mutual communion with Him, where we are not only fully present with Him, but He is fully present with us. To actively relate to Christ in the day-to-day like the living and engaging companion that He is.
He is inviting us to abide in His love. Actively allowing the love of God to be the source from which we draw our identity, purpose, worth, and value. To be defined by His affection rather than our own performance and perfection.
He is inviting us to abide in His commands. An essential aspect of abiding is obedience. In this very same passage Jesus declares that “if you love me, you will keep my commands.” We make it our aim to faithfully walk in His ways no matter what it costs us.
He is inviting us to abide with other branches. One of the glorious realities of being bound to the Vine is that we are not alone. We are dependent on the Vine alongside every other redeemed and faithful servant of Christ. Not only do we get to draw from Christ as a source, but we get to draw from one another in our pursuit of living lives that are fruitful and fully pleasing to God.
Today, consider how you might be a better dependent. How you might more deeply rest in the reservoir of God’s grace, trading your striving for His provision. Are there areas in your life where intimacy with Christ is more of an idea than a reality? Jesus wants to be not only an addition to our already full and abundant lives…He wants to be the very foundation upon which our daily lives are built. In the areas where resting is a struggle, He so loves to draw us close and teach us to abide.