Doing Life Together

sad-2182545_1920Feeling disconnected? Just getting through your day? Nothing much excites you and life feels like a struggle. The Christian life promises joy and peace and you feel neither. What’s going on?

The answer could have to do with John 15, a chapter in which Jesus defines our relationship with Him and provides a prescription for life. Here is the definition- He is the true vine and we are the branches. Without this life-giving connection, we can’t flourish and will move towards despair and death. Our well-being suffers when we are disconnected to the life-giving vine of Christ. With Jesus in us, we are to remain connected.

But we are told that we must cultivate this relationship by abiding in Christ. This means we stay connected through prayer, worship and reading of His Word and move into a deeper and deeper intimacy with Christ. The more intimate we are with Christ, the more He shines a spotlight on our sin and highlights our competing affections. If we abide in Christ, we allow Him to prune us in order to grow and bear more fruit. We don’t like the pruning process and may be tempted to cut off from the vine and go our own way. That path of disconnection leads to death. Branches need the vine for continued nourishment and life.

In fact, Jesus wants us to bear much fruit. As the master gardener, the Father has to prune us. Even though He cuts, it is not  punishment or intentional hurt. Actually, it is just the opposite. As we go through difficulty and stay connected to Him, He is growing us and positioning us to be fruitful. Pruning forces us to look at our self-centeredness and selfish desires that have the potential to pull us away from the affections of Christ. As we move from dependence to self-dependence, we block the source of nourishment and begin to shrivel up. This is when we are tempted to give up and feel discontented.

As we sort through our unfaithful and adulteress heart and remove those things that compete for God’s love, we grow more intimate with Jesus. Whatever we experience, we become a testimony of God’s grace as he continues to pump us full of his nurturing power. This is what it means to abide in Christ–understand how He  gives life and sustains us in this life; be dependent on God and allow His pruning through the work of the Holy Spirit; and produce much fruit so that others may know of God’s love and so that our lives bring glory to God.

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