Abide in Christ

grapes-1129478_1920Last week I shared how spiritual guardrails protect us as we navigate the dangerous curves of life. Before we can make healthy disciples, we must first be healthy disciples. Let’s examine together the guardrails God gives us to remain healthy, not only in our personal walk with Him, but also corporately in the church.

The first protective guardrail is Abiding in Christ. Even after years in ministry, when I hear “abide in Christ” I think of a pristine park where I am supposed to be sitting in some deep, meditative state. Although there is nothing wrong with that, I don’t think it gives us the whole picture. We can understand abiding more completely by looking at the agricultural concept of grafting branches.

Grafting branches from one grape vine to another is common practice in developing a thriving vineyard. Winemakers use this process to cultivate healthier plants by removing a branch from a vine that is susceptible to disease, and joining it to a disease resistant vine. They also use grafting to protect branches from insects that may damage the root system of one vine, but will avoid another. The grafting process produces more abundant and higher quality fruit.

Jesus gives us an incredible metaphor of a vine and branches to represent our relationship with Him in John, chapter 15. Much like branches that are grafted to a vibrant vine in order to produce better grapes, we are grafted to Christ, who is our life-giving vine. A branch flourishes and produces fruit when it is connected to a healthy vine. We too, will flourish and become fruitful when we are in close relationship with Christ, our source of spiritual health and life.

A branch cut from an unhealthy vine will not produce any fruit at all unless it is connected to a healthy vine. Likewise, Jesus says that if we do not remain connected to Him we can do nothing. Andrew Murray, a 19th century pastor wrote in his book, Abide in Christ, “The great secret of abiding in Christ is the deep conviction that we are nothing, and He is everything.

Abiding is essential. As the branches, that is what we are called to do. In fact, it is all we are called to do. We must spend time with Jesus in prayer, learn to love and apply His Word, and acknowledge and listen to the Holy Spirit who flows through us when we remain connected to Christ. When we abide in these ways, God will produce fruit in us.

It is not the job of the branch to produce the fruit. The vine provides everything the branch needs if it simply remains connected to the vine. In The True Vine, Murray assures us, “You are the branch.–You need be nothing more. You need not for one single moment of the day take upon you the responsibility of the Vine. You need not leave the place of entire dependence and unbounded confidence.”

Abiding in Jesus will always lead to action, but the abiding must come first. When we abide, the Holy Spirit will fill us and prompt us to act. Calling the church to abide in Jesus must be our priority, because becoming healthy disciples ourselves and then making healthy disciples of others will be the abundant, robust fruit that is produced when we remain close to Him.

  • Are you busy doing for Christ rather than abiding in Him?
  • Do you carry the burdensome weight of producing fruit by yourself, or have you realized that “without Him we can do nothing?”
  • Have you accepted the truth that all you must do is stay connected to Jesus – and He is responsible for all the outcomes?

 

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