Summary: At time when technology is making it easier to stay connected with others - are we running the risk of failing to maintain our primary connection?
Dakota Community Church
June 7, 2009
Life in the Vine
"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, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
These verses are an allegory (a work in which the characters represent other things and symbolically express a deeper meaning). There are four characters in this little drama.
• The Father is the gardener (v. 1).
• Christ is the vine (v. 5).
• The disciples are branches (v. 5).
• Those who do not abide in Christ are useless branches (v. 6).
Where is the church here? The fruitful church is the branch that the gardener prunes, but the unfruitful church is the branch that the gardener removes and throws into the fire.
Vineyards are familiar. People pass vineyards as they walk from place to place. Some own their own vineyard or work in a vineyard. They are able to discern fruitful branches from those that will drain the vine’s energy. They trim unfruitful branches, all the while feeling good about the surgical purpose of their work. The pruning might seem cruel, but it renews the vine’s vitality. Useless vines drain the plant’s strength. To leave them in place serves no purpose and reduces the value of the vineyard. The gardener cuts away unfruitful branches and, finding them unusable, burns them.
This morning I want us to focus on three key elements of this passage and hopefully in the process we will leave here having been nourished by the Word of God and equipped for the work of the ministry God has prepared for each of us this week.
1. The connection
Remain in me, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Not since the Tower of Babel has there been a time in human history where people have had a great understanding of connectedness and of the value of connections.
Parents of travelling children have never been so blessed. We have Facebook, Twitter, AND Skype! We have cell phones, instant messaging and unlimited texting!
My Dad joined the Canadian forces at 16 and went to Germany where he did not phone home for 6 months, and then only after being ordered to by his Sergeant.
Connections to each other are important, connection to Jesus is a matter of life and death.
a.) Connection to Jesus is a requirement for fruitfulness. No Jesus equals - no fruit.
What does this tell us about good deeds?
This reinforces the idea that fallen man cannot earn God’s approval; our fruit is spoiled, our deeds are filthy rags without the connection to Jesus.
b.) Connection to Jesus is optional. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” - “If a man remains in me…”
This is another example of the free will element of relationship with God. You can be in him, in Jesus, in the church the Body of Christ – and choose not to remain!
How is the connection defined?
Are you connected?
Are you “remaining in him”?
How does that look?
We could say that prayer, bible reading, worship, fellowship with and love for other believers, the fruit of the Spirit, and a desire to reach the lost, might all be indicators of connectedness; I don’t think anyone can say for certain who is and who is not connected to the vine except the gardener.
2. The blade
…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.