“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:1-5
Jesus doesn’t pull any punches here. He makes it abundantly clear that we must bear fruit or we will be “cut off” and “thrown into the fire.” Have you responded to an alter call? Have you said a “sinner’s prayer?” Do you call yourself a Christian? Maybe you’ve even been baptized… But are you bearing fruit? What fruit is Jesus speaking of? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” But notice, he’s not telling us to try harder, get our act together, or buck up and make it happen… He doesn’t tell us to “produce” this fruit… but rather to “bear” this fruit. And how do we bear this fruit? We simply remain in him.
So how do we remain in him? Romans 7:4 tells us “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” The term “joined to” here is the same language used when a husband and wife are “joined together” in marriage. The Lord has blessed me with a beautiful, godly wife. I crave intimacy with her. I look forward with great anticipation to our time alone. But that doesn’t just happen by chance. We have been married nearly thirty years and have made choices in that time that have drawn us closer together. We have made our marriage a priority. Because of those choices, we have a bond of trust. We have made a point over those years of setting aside time to spend alone (which isn’t always easy with seven children). Throughout the day, a gentle touch as she passes by… stopping for just a moment to give her a kiss… a kind word of encouragement… these moments and the special times set aside make all the difference in our relationship. Could it be that to remain “in Christ” requires the same kind of commitment and fidelity? Could it be that we can increase our intimacy with Him by our choices? A few moments in the car worshiping Him rather than listening to the news… a prayer of thanks… and of course, the “set aside” times to be alone with Him… can make all the difference. The Lord has blessed my intimacy with my wife with the fruit of seven children. And rest assured, if you are spending time with the Lord, he will produce pleasing fruit in your life. He does the producing, we do the bearing. I encourage you to make Him your number one priority. Remain in Him... He is the source of life, the source of peace, the source of LOVE. He craves intimacy with you... do you crave intimacy with Him?
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8