If you were asked what God wants from you, what would you say?
I believe he wants our hearts. He wants to be in relationship with us.
As I continue to ask God to reveal himself and as I stop to listen to themes, there’s a scripture passage that seems to come up, time and time again. It’s familiar, but worth examining repeatedly. Over the next week, I’ll share with you some of how God is speaking through John 15:1-17.
Today, I focus on verses 4-8 and the word “remain”.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
The King James version translates remain as “abide”. Webster’s defines abide as “bear patiently” or “remain stable”. To me it means, hold tightly, rely on, trust.
Both verse 4 and 5 say that if we remain in him (God) we will bear much fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says that this “fruit” is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Anyone who seeks good character, seeks these attributes for themselves.
On some level and in normal circumstances, we can do ok, out of our own effort. Yet, our own life experiences have shown us, in ourselves and others, that these things are short lived in difficult situations. Is it not all the more important to display these traits in hard times?
The key then is remaining in God. Both verse 4 and 5 say without remaining in God, we can do nothing. In fact, it says it twice! Repetition likely means its an important concept to grasp. You may dispute this, but I at least believe it means we can do nothing of eternal significance without God and the little worldly significance we can provide, wavers with our circumstances, emotions, hormones, health, etc.
He is the vine and we are a branch. The vine feeds the branch. Can you imagine any fruit trying to grow on its own without proper nourishment from the vine?
I love vineyards, so I’ve seen a lot of vines. The parent vine is big and strong. It’s like an artery of life. The branches are more fragile. They're important as where the fruit is affixed, but they are thin and can easily break off, killing the fruit.
When the winds of life come upon us, our ability to produce this fruit on our own is diminished. It says we will wither and be rendered so helpless, worthless, that we might as well be thrown in the fire. But with God, anything is possible.
If we remain in him, we can ask for anything, especially these bits of positive character, and he’ll provide. He wants us to exhibit this character so he might show himself to the world as he pours though us. As his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), we reveal who his is.
As I wrestle with so many things right now, I asked God: “What do I do?”
He answered: “Keep doing what you’re doing. Remember who I am. Remind others of who I am. Hold tight to me. “
He asked me to abide. No matter how difficult, not matter what life brings, abide. That’s what I’ll do.
Father God, help me to abide in you. I know above all else you want my heart. You want me to seek your face (Jeremiah 29:13). You want me to look to you for wisdom (James 1:5). You want me to trust you (Hebrews 11:6). No matter my circumstances, may I always remember to stay close to you. You are the vine and I am a branch. Separated from you, I know I can do nothing.
I pray for all those reading this, that they will understand your love for them (Ephesians 3:18). I pray they will understand that more than anything, you just want their hearts. You want to care for them, like a careful gardener nurtures its prized rose. May these choose to abide in you. AMEN