Abiding in Christ; Intimacy
To navigate our way along this trek we will be guided by the following key text, image, themes and prayer.
Key Verse – John 15:1-17
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: that you Love one another.
Guiding Image – Apple of Glass
My parents live in one of the largest apple growing regions in the country. For years my mom decorated our Christmas tree with red shiny apple ornaments made of glass. They were beautiful to look at, and so perfectly shaped that you could almost believe they were real apples hanging on our tree. I remember one time watching one of them roll off the table as we were decorating the tree. It fell to the floor and shattered into pieces. It seems so odd to watch something that looked like real fruit turn out to be so fragile, so temporary and so easily broken.
On this trek I want to talk about fruit. As you consider John 15, I want you to have two images in your mind. The first is a real, juicy, crisp red apple. The other is this Christmas tree ornament; and apple shiny on the outside but made of fragile glass. When we consider the fruit in our life we need to ask which kind we are producing. Could it be that we are driven by a misguided understanding of John 15, which yields a life that produces nothing but apples of glass? What does it mean to bear real fruit? And what is the difference between producing and bearing? These are the questions we will address as we unpack this marvelous scripture and try better to understand John’s teaching on the importance of abiding in the vine.
Main Theme – It is in our ‘being’ not our ‘doing’ that we experience the deepest levels of intimacy with God.
Lord, use this key to unlock the shackles of my drive to produce fruit from my own efforts, and set me free to a life of abiding in you. Give me a passion for intimacy with you. Help me reset my priorities in life that I may create the time I need to be in your presence, listen for your voice and draw closer to you. Come Holy Spirit, and flow through me so that my life will bear the fruit of the Spirit, touching the lives of everyone I encounter. Lord, I want to be set free to find joy in life in being a branch that is firmly connected to you. And Lord, as you are calling me to take the next step in my walk of faith, give me courage to take that step. Reach out your hand and guide me, for this is new and deeper water for me. But because you are calling, guiding and holding me up, I will take this step. I trust you, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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