Remain in His Love

There is a vineyard not far from where we live. The grapes were just harvested. The fruit was dark and beautiful in contrast with the leaves that were tinged with a touch of gold. During the year as I drive past this vineyard I am always reminded of the words of Jesus, “I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in me and you will bear much fruit.” (John 15)

It is almost amusing to think of a branch growing fruit on it if it has been severed or disconnected from the vine. When a branch is cut away from the vine it is usually thrown onto the burn pile. It certainly isn’t going to produce any fruit without being connected to its source of life. You don’t go to your burn pile to look for the harvest; you look at the living vines for fruit.

It is ironic then that as Christians we think that we can be living and fruitful but not connected to Source. Many claim to have a walk with Christ, but they never spend any time with Him. There lives are not really any different than those who make no profession of faith. They remain fruitless.

Just exactly what kind of fruit are Christians supposed to produce anyway? Some folks get all caught up in trying to keep their lives looking just right. They don’t eat certain types of food. They are very careful about certain religious observations. They can even keep very busy doing "the Lord's work". But the real fruit that Jesus told his disciples about—the fruit that would result from abiding as close to him as the branch is connected to the vine—was the fruit of love.

“This is my command,” he stated. “Love each other”. The only way we can love one another is to abide in love. “Remain in my love”. To remain in the love of Christ is to have him living in our hearts. It is through the indwelling Christ that we can remain connected to the Source of Love.

It is just as silly to try to be filled with love, to love others, and to love yourself if you do not have the Source of Love living in you, as it is to look for fruit on branches that have been cut off from the vine. But we try to do this all the time.

The analogy of the vine is so powerful because is represents a living, vital relationship. The vine when rooted in the earth is full of power and the potential to nourish and grow a bountiful harvest. Christ is that vine and the living Source of love and power. He has chosen us be a part of that living plant. We have to choose to remain in that love.

Spiritual practice—study of sacred scriptures, prayer, meditation, service to others, spending time in nature—these are all elements to help us to remain, or stay aware, of the presence of God in our lives. Their purpose is to keep us connected. In and of themselves they are not fruit. They connect us with Source in order that we may produce fruit. The fruit that we produce is love for one another.

Can you imagine a world where we are filled with love for one another? Not just those that we prefer, but love for all? That is the kind of love that is far outside the bounds of what we are capable of apart from the Christ power. Just like a severed branch, we have hearts that are cold and shut off from the rest of the community of humanity. Connected to the vine we become a living, vibrant, healthy source or conduit of God’s love to the world.

There are always personal benefits to be had from personal spiritual practice. But they are nothing in comparison to being a living branch on God’s vine. To be filled with God’s love and to share God’s love is our reason for being here. Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

May you remain in His love and be filled with His joy as you stay connected to Him.