ABIDING IN CHRIST

 

Scripture Reading:  John 15:1-11

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4,5)

Abiding in Christ is recognizing that we are in union with Christ.  He is in us and we are in Him.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  Abiding in Christ means that we maintain the closest possible contact with Him, that we spend time with Him and learn from Him.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Jesus is stressing two essential concepts in the vine and branches illustration:  intimacy and fruitfulness.  The Christian faith is about a relationship and not about religion.  Growing as a Christian means developing an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the source of our life and strength.  As a branch cannot live apart from the vine, neither can we live spiritually apart from Jesus Christ.  He is the source of our spiritual nourishment and He is the power that sustains us.

A branch cannot bear fruit apart from its vine.  Healthy branches produce healthy fruit.  As we abide in Christ, we are expected to bear fruit.  Our ability to bear fruit comes from the nourishment we receive from our relationship with Jesus.  I believe that Jesus is referring to two kinds of fruit:  the inward fruit of character and the outward fruit of good works.  As we abide in Christ, His life shapes our lives.  We develop His character, His mind and His heart.  We become more like Him as we continue to abide in Him.  Peter writes about Christian character:  “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:5-8).  We cannot develop these character qualities apart from our union with Christ.

Likewise, we cannot do good works that are pleasing to God apart from our dependence upon Jesus Christ.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  The natural product of our union with Christ is good works.  We will desire to obey God and do good to others.  Out of our love for and gratitude to Jesus Christ, we will desire to be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).

Lord Jesus, I desire to abide in You, to be in close, intimate fellowship with You.  When I do my heart delights as I experience You in deeper and greater ways.  Jesus, You are the vine and I am one of Your branches.  Let me grow to be more like You each day and let me do the good works that Your Father has prepared for me.

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