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Be With Jesus

Updated: May 19

We overcomplicate spiritual growth. We look at ourselves, wish were more spiritually mature, and then start with the check list. Do better, work harder, serve more. If we just buckle down and really commit ourselves to becoming more like Jesus we can do it this time.

But Jesus dispels all that messaging. In His own words he says,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. -John 15:1-8

Notice there is a progression in Jesus' metaphor. The person he talks about starts bearing no fruit (no spiritual growth or maturity) but eventually bears much fruit (plentiful growth and maturity). What does Jesus say is the key to this kind of spiritual growth? Being with Him. We think it can't be this easy, but we intuitively know that who or what we spend the most time with we eventually become. Being with Jesus means leads us to become like Jesus.

Here are three insights Jesus gives us about spiritual growth from John 15.

Jesus Is The True Vine

When Jesus says, "I am the true vine" this implies there are false vines you can attach your life to in the hopes of finding meaning, purpose and satisfaction. Jesus says later, "I am the vine and you are the branches." Branches must be connected to the vine in order to produce fruit because the vine is the source of life. The point Jesus is making is if you want to experience true and abundant life, then you have to be connected to Him, the true vine.

But how often do we try to connect ourselves to other sources of life that don't provide actual provide life? We'll connect ourselves to a job, a relationship, a political ideology, a skill set, or a community and maybe for a time we feel like we have life. We feel like we've found purpose and meaning, but then experienced the letdown when it's taken away or doesn't provide everything we hoped for.

But Jesus says I am the true vine. I am the vine that gives you life and life everlasting. I am the vine that can give you life and life abundant. So connect your life with my life, as I mold you and shape you into the kind of person you were created to be. What vine is you life connected to?


Jesus Is A Good Gardener

The next verse terrifies us doesn't it? "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit is taken away." We immediately think, "If I can't get my act together, if I can't be more moral, if I don't behave like a good Christian, Jesus is going to reject me. He's going to remove me!"

No! When Jesus makes this statement, the word he uses for "take away" is airo, and it can mean can mean two things. Ario can mean taken away, or it can mean lifted up.

In this context, lifted up is a better translation, because Jesus is a good gardener and he knows just what to do in order for you and me to bear more fruit.

If we read this verse as "every branch in me that does not bear fruit he lifts up," what picture does that give us? It gives us a beautiful picture of a good gardener going through his garden, coming across a vine that is weary and not producing what it should, lifting it up on a trellis where it can receive the sunlight and nutrients it needs to grow again.

Jesus is more committed to our spiritual growth than we are. Jesus is the good gardener who nourishes and supplies what we need, not the frustrated landscaper who hacks away at everything that aggravates him.


Jesus Is The Giver Of Life

Finally, Jesus says, "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."

Does the branch on the apple tree force itself to produce apples? Does the branch wake up in the morning and say, "I'm going to try really really really hard produce an apple today!"

No! All it does is stay connected to its source of life. As long as it's connected to the vine, the branch will produce fruit. If we abide with Jesus and connect our life with his life, we will produce fruit. Jesus does all the heavy lifting. We just get near him.  

God does not abandon us to our devices. He does not save us by faith only to then demand we maintain our salvation through our own effort. God assures us the good work he started in us He will bring to completion.

Are you feeling you haven't made the progress you wish you had? Are you feeling you aren't bearing the fruit you think you should be? Then abide with Jesus. Stay by His side. Because when we are with Jesus we become like Jesus, and when we become like Jesus, we'll begin to do the things Jesus did.

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