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Fruit and Vines

I spent 2 years of my life being drawn back to John 15, like Hurley’s winning lottery number in the smash TV series LOST, it continually appeared to me in strange places. I couldn’t run from it. One day last spring I was out in my backyard pruning my grapevine when all the sudden this whole thing made sense to me. There were dead branches on my vine and I couldn’t stand them – they really just got in the way and made the rest of the vine look bad. In fact, the majority of the branches were dead. So I cut them off, took them over to my fire pit and watched them burn. The good branches though, I pruned so they would be more effective in producing my grapes. This is exactly what happens in John 15.

So, as I stood there watching the fire burn up the branches, I walked over to my apple trees. It was hot, I was thirsty. If you have never had a fresh apple straight off the tree when you’re hot and desperately thirsty, you’ve missed out on one of the good parts of life. However, my mission failed when I couldn’t find a good apple. You can imagine my disappointment, and my anger. If I would have had a chainsaw in my shed, the trees would have been gone that day… what kind of crappy apple tree do you have to be in order to not produce an apple that is pleasing to the eye? That’s when the Holy Spirit reminded me of Matthew 7 where Jesus says that bad trees bear bad fruit and good trees bear good fruit. I understood right away what Jesus meant by his very next statement, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So, you will know them by their fruits”. And oh, how I wished with all my heart that I had a piece of equipment capable of cutting those stupid trees down – I could tell by their fruits that they were bad trees.

But that’s when the Holy Spirit urged me to think about something else: what kind of tree am I? There are really only 2 kinds, good and bad – and I’ve got to be one. Am I a dead branch on the vine? Will I be the subject of spring pruning (to produce good fruit) or fall pruning (to be thrown into the fire)? And yes, on this occasion I was doing my fall pruning in the spring because I didn’t own the house in the fall (in your face).

Here is an important question: are you connected to the vine? Are you drawing your life from the vine or from something else? Jesus uses the word “abide” or “remain” in John 15, stating that if we “abide/remain” in Him as He “abides/remains” in us, we will produce a lot of fruit. But I am guilty of connecting myself to lots of other things, and in some ways being crazy enough to believe those things are going to produce the right kind of things in my life. Simply stated, we cannot disconnect ourselves from the vine and still have the life Jesus offers. The moment a branch ceases to get water and nutrients from the vine, it dies.

So how do we remain in Jesus? I believe according to the context of what Jesus is saying here, that we remain in Him by living our lives out according to his commandments. And what are the two greatest commandments? Love God from the epicenter of who you are – and love other people like He loves us. Quite honestly, I’m not convinced the church should teach followers of Jesus anything else until we can really begin to grasp as a community what it means to truly love God and truly love other people.

And how does Jesus remain in us? I believe according to the context of what Jesus is saying here, that he remains in us through the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says a little later in his discourse that when He is gone He will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, and He will lead us into all truth.

This is how we bear fruit: we live according to the truth Jesus teaches and are lead by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8)What kind of tree are you?

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