Jessica Albritton, Family Connections Minister, LHBC

John 15:1-11
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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.3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

I have never been one with a green thumb and I do not enjoy gardening but I have always appreciated those that can grow beautiful flowers and trees and bushes. I had a professor in seminary that was a master gardener, his entire backyard looked like Callaway Gardens. He grew lemons and roses, tomatoes and azalais, anything that you could think of gardening wise he grew it and grew it well. He and his wife were planning a trip once and asked me if I could come over while they were away to water the plants. I had to kindly decline the invitation. I am the last person you want watering your plants, they will not survive if I am to be in charge of their care. I am more of a fake plant kind of gal! You know, the ones you just have to dust off every few weeks!   

I’ll be honest, for years I read the passage in John 15 and bought into a complete lie. I knew that  a good Christian bore fruit, but I was convinced that in order to bear that fruit I had to check off all the boxes on my Jesus card. I would read my Bible and pray and go to church and serve and give and invite, which are all the things we as believers are called to do, but it became a big problem when my walk with Jesus became more about doing the works rather than being with Him. It wasn’t until several years after I had made the decision to follow Christ that I came to understand bearing fruit came only as a result of clinging to Jesus, not as a result of my own works. Jesus is clear, He is the vine, God cultivates the heart to produce fruit in us, we need only to abide in the Father. That word abide in verse 4 can be translated remain, reside, or dwell. It is an imperative command to take pause. When we take pause and truly dwell in Jesus He changes our hearts, He turns it towards Himself. As a result the fruit comes, not of our own efforts but from a place of deep desire to just be with Him! 

Knowing the extent of how I lack in the gardening department, I am ever so thankful to understand the truth of John 15. I don’t have to be, say, or do enough in order to bear fruit! It’s refreshing to know I just have to abide in the vine, He takes care of the rest! What about you? Are you running yourself weary checking off the boxes? Has your relationship with the Father become more of what to be, do, or say in order to cultivate fruit? Friend, take heart, that’s not the way it is supposed to be! Run to Jesus and dwell with Him! When you do He will cultivate your heart and fruit will be produced as a result! 

Heavenly Father, teach me to rest in You! Lord, help me to not rush around checking off boxes but instead find comfort in knowing that You are doing the work in my heart! In Jesus name, amen!

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.