“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…." (John 15:2a, NIV)
Growing up on a farm in western North Carolina, we had a Concord grape vine in our backyard that was vibrate and strong. I can remember to this day the mingle smell of the grapes drifting through the open window as I sipped coffee with God and family at the kitchen table. Our grapevine, although vibrate, was minimum to those cultivated in the Holy Land to this day. While healthy, our grapevine was a fragile plant and it was easy to break off branches. While in the Holy land a few years back, the grapevines I witnessed were hefty and robust. They were next to impossible to break off a mature branch without injuring the vine itself. As a spiritual branch in union with the Vine, our unification with Christ is:
1. a living union (nutrients from the Vine flow through us that we may bear fruit);
2. a loving union (our union is relational and allows us to enjoy the Vine), and
3. a lasting union (the union provides eternal security - we need not be afraid).
Biblical images of Christ and the believer emphasize this central idea of union and communion:
1. the body and its members (1 Corinthians 12),
2. the bride and the Bridegroom (Ephesians 5:25-33),
3. the sheep and the Shepherd (John 10).
Scripture reminds us that a limb or organ detached from the human body will die. Scripture reminds us that a wedding creates a union, but it takes daily love and devotion to establish and maintain the marriage. Scripture teaches that the shepherd brings the sheep into the flock, but the sheep must obediently follow the shepherd in order to have protection and provision.
Sometimes we forget our place. We need to acknowledge that just as the branch is pathetic and of no use without the vine, we are pathetic and useless without the Vine, Jesus Christ. It is our unification and communion with Christ through the Spirit that makes possible the bearing of the fruit. What is the fruit that we are each to bear? This fruit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV). This fruit should grow in the life of every believer and be evident in our lifestyle.
The sooner believers discover that we are but branches, the better we will relate to the Lord, and the sooner we will recognize our own weakness and confess our complete need for His supreme strength. Because God is omnipotent, He will use all yielding branches to produce vast quantities and qualities of fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) for His kingdom. God will snip off from the Vine and cast away all branches not producing these fruits, so that the nutrients flowing through the Vine are not be wasted on unyielding parasites. In closing, ask yourself this one question: “Why should God not snip me off the Vine and cast me aside?”