Here’s an analogy Jesus gave. Yes, of course, we can choose to do things without God. Many have been successful in things by ignoring God. Many become famous because of great sins they commit. Here in our culture we love independence and self-sufficiency. We fail to see that the things we do on our own are nothing. They may amount to something by earthly standards but they are nothing. I can fill up my bank account here but when I die it will mean nothing.
What’s the greatest thing here on earth? Power? Money? Respect? Happiness? Fame? All these things will disappear, disappoint and fade away. However, if I root my life in God the things I do in obedience last forever. This kind of life has the most power, respect and riches in the long run. Putting myself aside and connecting to God changes me and morphs me into something different. I no longer care about the things of this world. I just want to bear fruit. Being disconnected from the vine I wither, dry up and eventually amount to nothing. Pride might be the greatest deceiver of them all?
My neighbor cut several heaps of branches and piled them onto the street for pick up by the city. On Friday they were green and still had nice leaves. Today they’re brown, withered and dry. They will decay and eventually return to the earth just like we will when our bodies give out.
So how does one avoid this tragic ending? How do you abide in Jesus Christ? How do we bear fruit? We remain connected to The Vine. I am just a branch. I amount to nothing if I disconnect. I need the nourishment that comes through The Vine to survive. The one who does this has beautiful things birthed in and through them. They have tremendous strength and endurance, the kind that people don’t even understand. It doesn’t even make sense. it’s not rational but it’s so real!
I see this at funerals in the midst of our church family. Believers survive the death of a loved one very differently than someone who isn’t connected to The Vine. I can feel it in the air when I walk into that space. Some things will take me out, lop me off and destroy my if I’m not focusing on my branchood, Yep, I just invented a new word: branchood!
I want to bear fruit. I want to abide in The Vine and stay connected. I accomplish this through prayer, Christian community, reading The Bible, stopping and being quiet so I can listen and connect, studying, and other things that nourish me as a believer. What does my life look like to God? Is it beautiful with berries? Or is it like that dry, dead branch on the apple tree I have in my yard that I’ve been meaning to cut off?
I think we all see ourselves as greater than we really are. It’s time to humble ourselves and stay connected to The Vine so our lives bear fruit that will pass into eternity. We can do this together.