This past Sunday our church studied John 15:1-8. Below is a segment of the sermon I preached followed by further application:
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, ESV)
The essence of spiritual life is a vital connection to a person. Don’t miss that. Spiritual life isn’t spiritual behavior, it’s a vital union with another person. Jesus says, if you want spiritual life you must be vitally connected, or united with him. With his person. That’s what the word “abide” means. It’s a continuing connection. It means, to be with him, to be in him; to find your life in his life. But it’s not just a continuing connection. It’s a vital connection. The metaphor is of the vine and branches. This “I am” statement is more intimate than the the other 7 in John’s gospel.
- Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” He’s the daily bread we take into ourselves to sustain life.
- Jesus says, “I am the door.” We pass through him as sheep into God’s flock.
- Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” The shepherd holds and even sleeps with the sheep.
There’s closeness in all of those. But, “I am the vine, you are the branches” is different. There’s an intimacy here that you should never lose. What happens when a branch is cut off from the vine? It dies. In order for the branch to live, it must be grafted into the vine so that they become one, and the life of the vine transfers into and becomes the life of the branch. What Jesus is saying, is that spiritual life is unity with him. These words of Jesus tell us that the only way we have spiritual life is through an internal, continuing reception of his life into ours.
- What am I vitally connected to? To what am I looking to for my life, my peace, my security? An old fashioned way of asking this question is, “To what horse have I hitched the wagon of my life?” (Goofy, yes, but a great question) In other words, what’s pulling my life along?
- What areas of my life are causing me drastic frustration, turmoil, despondency?
- Where is the biggest source of my happiness, delight, hope for the future?
- Realize that you can only try to have a vital connection to 4 things:
- This world (It’s social and governmental structures, it’s products etc)
- Other people
- Can the things I’m vitally connected to fail me? How? In what ways?
- What will I do if they fail?
Hopefully you are old enough, and mature enough to express dissatisfaction with your life. If you’re successful, dissatisfaction is more of a “low growl”. If you’re life is failing it’s a “loud roar.” Regardless, examine your dissatisfaction. It will lead you to the answers to these questions.