1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
Jesus provides the clearest image of our relationship with God: “I am the true vine” and we are the branches. We are connected with God; we are connected with one another. The image includes the effects of this relationship: to the extent that we abide in Jesus, we bear fruit. The South African missionary and the theologian Andrew Murray thought this was an astute diagnosis of spiritual dryness. We’re good at responding to the initial call of Jesus: “come, follow me.” But it’s the lifetime work of abiding that makes the real difference in our faith or how we bear fruit. We can listen for God in worship. But do we make the time to listen for God every day of our lives? That’s comparison is too straightforward but is maybe close to what is meant here. Our life with God is not meant to be an occasional observance that we lead and come back to. When we have relationship with God, we abide, keeping God’s commandments as we can, so that God’s Spirit bears fruit in us. God doesn’t just appear in moments of grace, but in a grace-filled life.
Gracious God, abide in us, that we would abide in you. Let your Spirit remain, uniting us with you and one another in common mission until our lives bear fruit, and all abide in your eternal life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.