"Stay with Me", a message by Pastor Reid Matthias.
I am the vine and you are the branches.
I think I’ve repeated that mantra thousands of times throughout my life. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches and we’re supposed to produce fruit – and lots of it. Yet, when I prepared for this week, I realised that I had been incorrectly repeating the verse by forgetting some very important words, starting with this one:
I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.
That word ‘true’ changes everything, because it implies that their are false vines, or vines that speak lies to us.
Certainly, we can see by the fruit that’s produced what we are connected to, or even more importantly, WHO we’re connected to. Whether the influence of our perpetual connectedness to the vine of the internet, digital communications, entertainment, you name it, we see the fruit of fear, of distance, of hatred. It could be the circle of friends in which we connect. The fruit of our actions and words are a reflection of who we listen to.
Thus, we need the second half of the sentence – and my Father is the gardener.
A gardener’s job is to not only make sure that the vine is healthy and the branches are connected, but to prune in its season so that more fruit is produced.
But what does this look like in real life? How does Jesus’s parable of the true vine and branches look like in busy lives, (over)active lives that struggle with creating space to remain in him and allow his words to remain in us?
As you ponder the scripture reading this week – John 15:1-8 – reflect on what it means in your own life to have the gardener prune things from your life so that you can bear much fruit. What kind of fruit is your life producing? In what quantities? Then, apply the same scripture as if Jesus is talking about Good Shepherd as a community. Corporately, how is God pruning us? What fruit is being produced and what fruit can we expect in the upcoming growing season?