1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.
I am sure we have all struggled to stick with a diet or exercise plan before—I certainly have. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the results (or even the activity itself of eating well or exercising hard), but consistency can be a challenge for any number of reasons. Similarly, I find that my walk with Christ can experience ebbs and flows, periods of consistency mixed with periods of disengagement. During the latter, I can find myself discouraged that my life is not producing fruit like I know it can and should.
John 15 provides a seemingly simple solution: abiding in Christ. If we do, Christ promises that we will bear much fruit, and He will help conform (prune) us to His likeness so that we bear more and more fruit. When we fail to remain in Christ, the opposite promise is clear—we cannot bear fruit apart from Him. We shouldn’t be surprised or discouraged when that is the result. Importantly, the focus for the believer is not a laundry list of actions or complicated steps. Rather, our job is to focus on remaining close to Christ. When we do, we can let Him take care of the fruit.
I think the hardest part about facing a new diet or exercise plan can be getting started. And maybe the same applies when we think about abiding in Christ. But regardless of where we are in our walk or life, the promise in John 15 holds true. We focus on abiding, and Christ will fulfill His promise to produce spiritual fruit in our lives.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- When you think about your walk with Christ, does it look like “remaining” with Him? If not, what steps can you take to create a more consistent, regular relationship with Him?
- As we think about getting back to our regular fall routines, how can we build in time and/or disciplines to help ensure that we are abiding in Christ?
- Often, we have more success in diets or exercise when we have a partner or group that participates with us. Who in your life can encourage you to remain focused on abiding in Christ and help get you back on track when needed?
Planting seeds and watching them grow is a wonderful experience for children. Involve the whole family in this experience by choosing what you want to plant, where you want to plant it and assigning responsibilities to care for the seeds after they are planted.
As your seeds bloom into beautiful plants, talk about how Jesus makes us a new creation. Talk about the importance of good soil and about how the flower or fruit must be attached to the seed in order to grow. Read John 15:5 together. Jesus said He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him we can do nothing.
Pray together and remember all the wonderful things Jesus has done for us.