Abide in Me

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just 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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”       John 15:1-11

I remember learning this scripture passage as a child in Sunday school. My teachers often referred to it as a love letter from Jesus. It brought me comfort when I was young, however adulthood and a better grasp of the English language has pushed me to examine the deeper meaning of Jesus’ words. He is indeed describing His love for us, but the use of the word ‘abide’ connotes endurance, to sustain, tolerate, and bear. ‘Abide in’, which is the phrase repeated throughout this passage, means to remain in the service of another. The meaning of this passage, then, is not as simple and warm-fuzzy as Barney the purple dinosaur singing, “I love you. You love me.” 

This is Jesus asking us to develop an enduring relationship with Him. One that needs continuous work – work to sustain and tolerate the good and bad, and that requires us to remain in His service. As I reflect on my life, the times that were the most fruitful were often the times that were incredibly difficult. I now know that those were times when I was abiding in Christ. I remained closely in His service because I needed His love to see me through. I also realize the times my branch started to grow apart from Him were the times when He was abiding in me. This verse still brings me comfort and my branch continues to grow and be fruitful in His love.

Prayer: Lord, Jesus, I give thanks for your words of love and thanks for your willingness to continue to abide in me – in us. Help us to recognize the times when we can be in your service so that we may also abide in you. Amen.

Brenda Windischman