Monday, April 21, 2008

The Grapes

Following on from yesterday with the second verse in John 15, Jesus begins to explain what the father does as the 'gardener' or as the ESV puts it 'the vinedresser'.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be more fruitful.

The first part of this verse scares me, would God really cut people off from the vine? Just for failing to bear fruit?
While this should scare us a little, we need to put it in context. It seems likely that this cutting off would refer to the judgment day, when God would say "This one was never part of the vine" ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’ Surely if one has remained in God, he would have at least born some fruit!

When we are connected to the vine, we WILL bear fruit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self–control. Against such things there is no law. Think of it this way the 'fruit' or result of being in the Spirit (or in the vine) is Love, Joy, Peace etc. When we are living in the Spirit, the fruit will come, Our character has to change. Which begs the question, in your life do you see those fruit? What does that say about how connected you are to the vine?

The second half of the verse makes a very important point, just because we have had some fruit doesn't mean we can sit back and relax till the rapture. Jesus tells us that we will be pruned. I can't imagine that being pruned is particularly comfortable. It requires us to let go of things that we want to hold on to. For example, I may be being pruned at this very moment. Right now I'd really rather be in bed going to sleep that writing this, but I know that God has called me to spend more time with His word, struggling to understand it, thinking on it, writing about it. I don't have all the answers or all the right things to say, I'll probably one day look back on my thoughts here an laugh, Yet I'm doing my best to follow my God.

So how do we get connected?

Rico has made some good comments on what it means to be "Truly Connected to the True Vine" have a read of those, but as usual I have some thoughts of my own :)

Firstly we need to remember that maintaining a connection takes effort. Think about some of the people you used to be friends with, perhaps they moved to a different city? You started going to a different church? No longer see them at Uni?
You may have noticed that if you want to maintain relationships with people you have to put in some effort. You have to remember to think of that person, make time for them, put them before other less important things. Easier said than done (for me at least)

It is the same with our relationship with Jesus, many times we neglect him, forget about him, choose other much less important things over him. This is not good enough.

Secondly, We need to stand strong. As a vine branch if I don't hold tight and build a strong connection with the vine, and hold on to the truth around me at the first storm my connection would be severed. Too many people drop their connection to the vine simply because the feel like it would be easier to let go.

Well I think that's me for today, I'm going to keep thinking about how to strengthen my connection to the Vine. Let's get practical what are some things we can do to cultivate this connection?
Blogging all this for me is one.
What else can you think of?

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