Abiding in Christ

July 15, 2019

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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:1–4

Sometimes we get too busy to seek the Lord. We may read our Bibles a bit each day, but we fail to saturate ourselves in the Word. In times like these, love, joy, peace, and patience are hard to come by. The Lord intends better for His followers.

Jesus and His disciples had left the upper room, where they had shared a final meal and had begun moving toward the Mount of Olives. Jesus, knowing that His imminent trial, judgment, and death had the potential to rock the disciples’ faith, continued speaking to them, preparing these eleven men to remain strong in Him through the changes about to come.

Live in Christ

I am the true vine” (John 15:1), He began. This is the seventh and final instance in which the Lord used this “I am” formula, identifying Himself again as the God of Israel. Then He spoke a phrase that He would repeat over and over: “Abide in Me” (John 15:4). By “abide” the Lord meant “live.” We are to live in Christ in the same way that a branch is connected to the vine. This union is essential since a branch cannot exist apart from the vine.

Jesus made a big deal of this because He wants His people to bear fruit. Galatians 5:22–23 tells us that the fruit God wants in our lives is the fruit of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, and other qualities that reflect the character of Christ. Sadly, many people in the church do not bear this kind of fruit because they are not abiding in the vine—they don’t have a vital union with Jesus Christ.

Jesus told His disciples that His Father, the vinedresser, would remove every branch that did not bear fruit. This is exactly what happened to Israel historically. Israel refused to believe in Jesus, and many thousands of Jews were taken into captivity a few decades after they rejected the Messiah.

Bear More Fruit

The branches that remained, however—those who believed in Christ—would be pruned so that they might bear more fruit. Being pruned isn’t fun. Sometimes it comes in the form of difficulties that we experience. Other times it comes as we read God’s Word and the Lord exposes things in us that He wants to get rid of. But this cleansing process is necessary if we are going to be healthy and fruitful.

Abiding is simple. To abide we just need to keep believing in Jesus. Stay close to Him. Spend time with Him. Obey Him. “If you keep My commandments,” Jesus said, “you will abide in My love” (John 15:10).

Jesus, as He had done earlier, impressed one command in particular upon His disciples: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). More than any other, the fruit Jesus wants to see in our lives is love for each other. It’s not always easy to love, but Jesus showed us how to do it: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). We love people by laying down our lives for them, just as Jesus did for us. Giving up our rights. Letting go of our hurts. This is abiding in Christ.

God’s Friends

If we obey Jesus’ commands, if we abide in Him, the Lord calls us His friends. Amazing!

God’s main purpose in creating Adam and Eve was to have communion with them. When sin came in, their relationship was broken, but Jesus’ death on the cross repaired the damaged relationship between God and man. So many people think of Christianity as a list of rules to obey, but Jesus wants to be our friend.

God wants us to be so connected to Him that He can flow through us just as the life of a vine flows through its branches. He wants kindness, gentleness, and humility to flow from us to others. This is the natural result of abiding in Jesus.

What kind of fruit comes from your life? Holiness, love, and peace? Or irritation, frustration, even anger? If you need fresh fruit in your life, start abiding in Jesus—spend time in His presence, fill yourself with His Word. His joy and peace and kindness will fill you and flow from you and will draw others to Christ.