Remain in Me

John 15:4-5
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

My first duty as a Christian is not to bear fruit, but to remain in him. The picture is of a vine and its branches. Branches don’t stress and strain to bear fruit. They neither feel guilty nor pleased. They simply are happy to remain in the vine. And when they do, the fruit comes in due time.

But there’s an assumption in that phrase “to remain”. The old phrase is “to abide” –to stay, to rest. The assumption is that I tend to be restless, I tend to stray. I tend to wander. As the hymn says, “prone to wander Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” I am prone to think that Jesus is not enough. I’m tempted every day. And I leave the vine. The moment I do, I cut myself off from the life-giving source of Christ. And apart from him, I can do nothing says Jesus –not some things, not a few things. Nothing.

Sometimes I think the fruit is God’s kingdom work. But it’s more than that. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). When I refuse to remain in him, I forfeit so much. But in him, how much more abundant the fruit!

Thank you Lord for reminding me that I can do nothing, I can be nothing, without remaining in you. Teach me to pray when I don’t want to, to turn to your word when it’s hard, and to be attentive to your presence always. Teach me to remain in you -that I may be fruitful.