Summary: What it means to remain in Christ.
“The Right Connection”
By:Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Shortly after I was saved, I was hanging out with my teenage friends, and a group of them were being
really mean and bullying to a kid who happened to have a different skin color.
They seemed to be doing this for no other reason than for entertainment purposes.
I remember how evil it felt.
I could see the clear line between right and wrong...God’s way and Satan’s way.
In the past I would have either joined in with them, or not thought much about it.
Not this time.
This time, I smiled at the kid who was being harassed...I spoke to him like a human being...I stood up
...and you know what he said to me?
He said, “You’re not the same as them...you’re not like them...you’re not one of them.”
It felt good and scary at the same time...good: because I was filled with the Holy Spirit of
God...scary: because I knew I could no longer hang out with my friends like I used to and do what my friends were
doing any longer....
...well, it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t do it...
...it was more like I couldn’t do it anymore and be happy...and be at peace...
... “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Jesus said, “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.”
What does this mean?
How does one remain in Christ?
Think of it this way:
When we put a tea bag in a cup of hot water, something amazing happens to the water. As the tea bag
remains in that water, the tea begins to color and flavor the water until that water begins to take on the color and
the taste of the tea bag. The longer the bag remains in the water, the stronger the color and taste of the tea.
And this is exactly what happens when we remain in Christ and He remains in us.
The longer we remain in Christ and the deeper we go with Christ, the more the influence of Christ will
pervade our lives, so that we begin to reflect His nature and His character.
In our Epistle Lesson, Paul is talking about the fruit of the Spirit of God....
This fruit is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
How can anyone display all of these qualities consistently?
Humanly speaking...we can’t.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that it is not only a possibility but a distinct reality--if we have the right connection.
“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you
remain in me.”
A five year old boy fell out of bed, waking the entire household with his cry.
After his mother had safely tucked him back under the covers, she asked: “Why did you fall out of bed?”
Between tears and sobs, he said: “Well, I guess I went to sleep too close to where I got in.”
Too many people do just that in life--we sleepwalk too close to where we began. So we fall short of what
God created us to become.
Too many people never learn the secret of being connected to Christ...Who is the true vine.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit are not naturally manufactured--they are supernaturally produced!
Those of us who have God’s Holy Spirit living in us have the supernatural ability to become fruit
producing branches for Christ...all it takes is the right connection!
And Jesus revealed the right connection in our Gospel Lesson for today...
...Keep in mind that, horiculturally speaking, the fruit depends on being connected to the vine.
To put it another way, a branch bears fruit only if it has the right connection to the tree.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine.”
Out of a vine spring forth little buds called shoots....
....at first, the shoots are just fragile green buds...
...then comes the flower--the bloom ready to mature...
...and then comes the fruit.
It is God’s will that the seeds of His image which are planted in all of us become fruit-bearing branches...
...God wants all of us to reflect the character of the true vine, His Son, Jesus Christ!
Jesus says, “My Father is the gardener,” ....
....and the only thing that interests the gardener is fruit.