Abide in Christ

Photo of a vineyard Moselle Germany. Jesus refers to the Father as the Vinedresser. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. John 15. 
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

For the past fifteen months, our Pastors have been preaching from the Gospel of John, verse by verse. There is so much information in there, so much to learn, that even with this intense study, I still find myself going back and researching some more.

Several weeks ago, we were in John 15 and the word “abide” was extremely prevalent. Since then it keeps coming up in later chapters, and so it’s stuck with me. I know what the word means, but I keep thinking and wondering, am I abiding in Christ?

First, to define it. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
transitive verb
1a: to bear patiently: TOLERATE
b: to endure without yielding: WITHSTAND
2: to wait for: AWAIT
3: to accept without objection
intransitive verb
1: to remain stable or fixed in a state
2: to continue in a place: SOJOURN

Ideally, the answer to my question, “Am I abiding in Christ,” would be a resounding “YES!” however, going through each definition, I realize that I’m struggling–a lot.

I’m often impatient, succumb to worldly things, reject what the Holy Spirit is calling me to do. I take things into my own hands instead of waiting on God’s perfect timing. However, I do see so much improvement in each of these areas. I’m praying more often for guidance and wisdom. I’m waiting, watching, listening for God’s replies. I’m giving everything up to Him more and more.

Thankfully, through sanctification (and God’s mercy), I’m still a work-in-progress and I know that, eventually, I will get to that resounding “YES!”

This week I thought we would do something different and go through John 15:1-27, just a few verses per day.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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.
John 15:1-4 ESV

“Of the many pictures of the relationship between God and His people, the vine and branch picture emphasizes complete dependence and the need for constant connection. The branch depends on the vine even more than the sheep depends on the shepherd or the child depends on the father. As Jesus was about to depart from His disciples, this was important encouragement. He would remain united to them and they to Him as truly as branches are connected to the main vine.”
David Guzik

The question came up in Bible study a few weeks ago about the branches that God takes away. David Guzik explains:

“The branches that are taken away were never properly abiding in the vine, demonstrated by the fact that they did not bear fruit.”
i. There is an alternative understanding of this passage that bears some consideration. James Montgomery Boice (among others) believes that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated, takes away is more accurately translated lifts up. The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as was common in the ancient practices of vineyard care). Those caring for ancient grape vines made sure to lift them up off the ground that they might get more sun and bear fruit better.
ii. “The verb translated ‘cut off’ (aireo) means literally ‘to lift up’ or ‘to take away’; the second, ‘trims clean’ (kathaireo), a compound of the first, means ‘to cleanse’ or ‘to purify.’” (Tenney)

David Guzik

Please join me this week in praising our Father for being the loving, caring Vinedresser. Ask Him to show you which type of branch you are. Ask Him to lift up those branches which are not bearing fruit. Ask Him to show you how you can help in the vineyard. Let’s also pray that the Holy Spirit continually work with us and our loved ones so that we may completely abide in Jesus.