Vines and Branches

I’m what you would call a wannabe-green thumb. I love plants, I have several throughout my house, and I’ll always adopt a couple more when I see them in stores. The only thing is that I struggle to keep them alive. When you come over, you’ll see plants happily growing in cute pots, but what you don’t see are the dozens of plants that have died in the name of turning my house into a forest. Thanks to the ups and downs of plant ownership, I’ve learned that plants thrive when their needs are provided for, which can only happen when connected to a life source. In John 15:5, we see that we’re the same way. 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

We are the branches, and Jesus is the vine; he is the source of our life and the sustainer of our souls. Just like we water and care for our plants, the Lord waters and cares for us. In this chapter of the Bible, Jesus uses the word remain or abide seven times, which means that He’s trying to drive home a point. As Christians, we are to remain in the Lord, continually seeking Him first and finding our worth and identity in Him. It can be tempting to follow what others are saying or what the world says is trending, but only by remaining rooted in the Lord can we find true fulfilment and peace with who we have been created to be. We are to be in Christ before we are in anything else.

Being in Christ is a form of active waiting. We aren’t just sitting on the sidelines of our life waiting for the Lord to move. We’re meant to be actively seeking Him out, building a relationship with Him, and doing all of this from a posture of a humble servant looking to the Lord for guidance. The word abide in John 15:5 comes from the Greek root word meno, which means: to stay, abide, remain, wait. This type of living can be hard for many of us to wrap our heads and hearts around. We’ve been told repeatedly by the world that we need to hustle and work hard to change ourselves into who we’re supposed to be. But if we look at this word and the context that John 15 gives us, it becomes clear that we need to stop trying to change ourselves. 

We are not the ones who are going to dictate who we are; instead, the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and carries out the transformative work in our lives. Instead of trying to unearth or recreate ourselves, we need to sink into our relationship with Jesus and soak in who He says we are. When we are living in Christ, we can’t keep clinging to our old ways of life. Being a new creation in Jesus means a line drawn between who we were and who we are now. 

Charles Spurgeon said that “a new creation is a root-and-branch change; not an alteration of the walls only, but of the foundation; not a new figuring of the visible tapestry, but a renewal of the fabric itself.” This isn’t a change that only affects the surface-level parts of our lives; it’s a change that sinks down to our very core. God doesn’t only go halfway; He commits fully. That means that when we decide to enter into a relationship with him, we have to be prepared for our entire being: body, mind, and soul to be transformed. 

God created the world to reflect his creativity and power, and He made us to reflect His character. What an amazing truth that we get to live our lives in every day! There is such freedom to be found when we refuse to listen to the voices of the world and instead set our hearts and minds on the Lord. He created us, He knows us better than anyone, and it is in Him that we discover who we have been called to be. 

While I may be a wannabe-green thumb, God is the master gardener. When we remain rooted and built up in Him, we live a life connected to our source of life, which is the best place to be. Only by intentionally sinking our roots in the word of God and setting our hearts on Him can we begin to live a life that this thriving and full of God’s wild freedom. So dig in friends, and soak in the life-giving ways of the Lord.

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