“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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
In our backyard we have a half dozen or so mulberry trees. In June of every year they produce many, MANY mulberries! They are delicious. We aren’t farmers, and aren’t used to eating food that grows on our property, so we get pretty stoked about it. The soil, sunlight, and rainfall must be just right for our trees because they are very healthy. But, when a branch is overgrown and gets cut off the tree, to no one’s surprise, when June rolls around that branch doesn’t produce mulberries. The branch gets what it needs from the tree. It is not self-sufficient. It must stay connected to the tree to stay alive, to keep producing fruit. And once it gets disconnected from the tree, it isn’t good for anything. Other than maybe to be thrown into a fire.
We are mulberry tree branches. And our fruit won’t be just a couple weeks in June every year. The fruit that God has created us to produce is continual, with eternal implications. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) This fruit fulfills our purpose in creation, shines God’s light and goodness in a world of sin and darkness, and brings God glory.
Just like the mulberry tree branches we are not self-sufficient.
Do we really believe that? Apart from God we can do nothing? Nothing! Often our days are filled with so much that we don’t get around to even talking with God, much less, doing anything with God! But if we would apply this truth to our lives, our lives might look a little different. Maybe we will start seeing every traffic jam as an opportunity to grow in patience while we take a few minutes to thank God for his blessings. Maybe we will start seeking out opportunities daily to add value to someone’s life. Maybe we would start developing relationships that lead to spiritual conversations. Maybe we will seek out moments to open God’s Word each day, asking to hear God speak to us. Maybe we will appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, relying on what He desires to do in and through us. Maybe in a year we would be more like Christ than we are today.
The life we have with Christ is a dynamic, lively, and transformative journey. And Jesus wants us to abide in Him so that we bear fruit. Not simply for the sake of obedience, but that our joy may be full! We were created to show the glory of God, and when we live to this end, whatever the circumstance, we can experience Jesus’ joy in us.
God wants us to depend on Him for everything. Abiding in Christ like branches abide to a vine demonstrates to the world that our hope is in someone outside of ourselves. God himself.