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 15:5)
Staying connected is so important in this time. I think we’ve all heard that and agree on it. We know that connection with others is important for our mental health, our emotional health, and our ability to stay resilient through this lockdown. I’m glad we’ve even started challenging the term ‘social distancing’ as unhelpful, when it’s actually ‘physical distancing’ that’s called for. We need social connection, even if it’s digital only, more than ever.
But there’s another connection that’s even more important. Our connection to God. Whether we’re in lockdown or not, we need to be connected to our maker. All our resources flow from this connection, whether we realise it or not, and our life depends on it. He is the source of life, from whom we draw strength and energy and sustenance.
In John 15 Jesus puts it in stark terms: in Him we can bear much fruit; apart from Him we can do nothing. That’s a challenging thought, and one we probably rebel against on some level. Surely we can do some things on our own, produce maybe a little bit of fruit? But no, Jesus says we can’t do anything without Him. We won’t achieve or produce anything of real significance or lasting good without His power.
Maybe you’ve seen a branch hanging off a tree, snapped off but not yet completely severed? They will retain a veneer of life for a little while, using the nutrients already in them, but as time passes they’ll shrivel up and lose their vitality. The illusion of life continued for a time, but once the connection had been broken with the source of its life, it soon faded. It can be the same for us – when we fall out of good habits of spending time with Jesus things can seem fine for a while, but the longer we go on in this state the harder it gets and more fruitless our efforts become.
If we want to produce good fruit, we need to remain in Jesus, and have Him in us. That word ‘remain’ is an anchor for the long-term – we need to stick with Jesus through thick and thin. He’s not a charging point we can come back to every time we need a top up, nor should we wander off to do things on our own after a well-intentioned start. We need to remain – don’t go anywhere without Him.
What does it mean to remain in Jesus? It means looking to Him first thing in the morning and thinking about Him before bed. It means keeping up a constant dialogue of prayer and conversation. It means reading your Bible every day, listening to Him and taking on nutrients for your soul just like mealtimes give us nutrients for our bodies. It means to keep worshipping, keep serving, keep trusting, keep relying Him day in, day out. If you’re doing this stuff – great, keep it up. If you’re not, start now. It’s never too late to start.
Let’s remain in Jesus and be fruitful for Him. If you’ve wandered away, or let spiritual disciplines lapse, come back and start them again. Let’s not try and do life without Him. Let’s not allow ourselves to dry up before we realise what the problem is. By all means keep doing the ‘physical distancing’, just don’t let yourself slip inadvertently into ‘God distancing’. Staying connected to your friends and loved ones is crucial, but remember that remaining in Jesus is even more important.
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