July 2017

 Abide In Christ                                

          “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 15:4).

          As I go to my backyard, I see the flower garden, and along the fence, a grapevine. This vine was planted by our neighbor years ago. He shares the fruit we us generously. Last summer there were small clusters with small grapes. The vine had never been pruned.  I asked the neighbor if I could prune it; he was delighted. Therefore, in early spring, I took the shears and pruned. I read up (a bit) on how to prune and applied fruit tree pruning techniques when appropriate. The main branch, the vine, is directive in pruning. Branches that are growing downward would be shaded and unproductive, so they are pruned. Branches growing wildly away from the vine are pruned. Each branch is cut back to two or three buds from the vine; from these the clusters of grapes will form. I disposed of the pruned branches. What was left was a vine with its branches. Presently I wait for the created order of the plant and summer to produce fruit.

          We read in John 15 that Jesus is the Vine and humans are the branches. In John 15:1 Jesus proclaims, “I am the true Vine and My Father is the Vinedresser.” I appreciate this illustration of God at work with me, pruning off in me the things that grow downward which are not in accord with God.  There is also pruning of the things that are wildly self-centered and not aware of the Lord and the pruning of excesses in my life that compete with fruit closer to the Lord. All these will drain energy and resources so that Divine fruit is not produced.

          We can identify other analogies of the careful pruning God does in our individual lives. This individual application assumes the abiding in Christ and God sanctifying us in order that God’s will is promoted (done) in our lives. Let us “abide in” Christ as God is continually sanctifying us, that is, making us holy.

          There is a further application of this picture of Christ’s Vine and branches illustration—a corporate one. John 15:6 emphasizes this application: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch that withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” Now we are not dealing with sanctifying a believer, but the concept of separating the sheep and goats (Matthew 25) or good fish and bad fish (Matthew 13). We are dealing with the judgment of God upon the body of mankind. This is a fearful thing.

           This judgment application drives us ever more to “abide in” Christ, not just to live a more peaceful, sanctified life (individual application), but to be abiding in His eternal kingdom which begins now through His means of grace. God the Father is the Vinedresser in both applications. He prunes those growing downward who are not willing to have God’s Light shine on them, those growing wildly away from Him and His institutions, who are focused on their own triune god of me, myself, and I.

          Christ calls for us to “abide in” Him. There we will be sanctified and kept in His everlasting kingdom. Enjoy that God is actively nourishing and forming you.

The Lord be with you,

Pastor Sam Wiseman