In that well known passage in John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of Himself as the vine and us as the branches, He lets us know that the key to bearing fruit is ‘abiding’ or ‘remaining’ in Him. He says ‘abide in me and I in you’, and ‘he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit….’ He says ’If you abide in Me and My words abide in you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you’. He also tells them ‘abide in My love’. John 15:4,5,7,8.NASB. In fact the whole passage closely links bearing fruit with ‘abiding’ in Him, and in His love and letting His words abide in us.
The implications are clear, we are already ‘in Him’ we just have to stay there, in order to live fruitful lives, because if He is the vine then all the nourishment necessary for fruit bearing comes through Him. It’s a simple picture from nature but very profound. The interesting thing here is that it is not normal for a branch to disengage from the vine unless it is cut off, but once cut off it has no life of its own to survive let alone carry any grapes to maturity.
The normal thing is for the branch to remain attached. We have a couple of vines in our garden and sure enough when we cut a branch off not only does the branch fail to produce grapes but within a day or two the leaves die too. To this day however we have never seen a branch detach itself, it just doesn’t happen. Because the branches are integral to the whole vine, they grow and produce fruit quite naturally.
We have been thinking recently about how we can let ‘Our new life in Christ’ flow in all sorts of different situations. We have been thinking about how we can produce good fruit when our ‘old man’ wants to take over and react in the old ways. Well here we have another key to help us. It is another picture and it links to ‘reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus.’ It is about recognising that on becoming a Christian we have been repositioned, by the power of God through Christ. We are now ‘in Him’ we just have to stay there.
Paul writes that ‘He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son’. Colossians 1:13.We have been ‘transferred’, with a high price, into a new Kingdom. In footballing terms we no longer play for the old club any more. No one expects a player to go back and play for their old club after the transfer fee has been paid, and Paul emphasises this by writing to another group of Christians ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your body.’ 1 Corinthians 6:19,20.
The transfer fee was high. Jesus’ own life, and we are now part of an entirely different Kingdom, we have no right to return to the old. The point I am making is that ‘Abiding’ makes more sense and is easier to do, when we see how completely we have been repositioned. Abiding is not about ‘trying’ to stay connected to Jesus, it is about holding the position that we now have in Him. ‘For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.’ Colossians 3:3.
The more that I can thank God that I have been ‘transferred’ and that I am now ‘in Christ’, the more faith I will have in my new position and the easier ‘abiding’ becomes. If I am no longer trying to see myself as ‘in Christ’ but reckon on it as fact, the more I will appreciate and be able to appropriate all that He has done for me and all that is now available to me in Christ.
Thanksgiving that the price of the transfer has been paid, and thanksgiving that I am now ‘in Christ’ releases more and more faith, that I can abide there, and that the vine life will flow, producing fruit in all the different aspects of my life.
I think Paul would agree with me here, as he wrote ‘So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, as you were taught, overflowing with thankfulness’. Colossians 2:6