“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Have you ever seriously thought about the fact that it is possible to bear false fruit that looks very much like authentic Kingdom fruit, but in the end is not? Have you ever seriously thought about the fact that it is possible to accomplish many great things in the name of Jesus, but not at the command of Jesus? Matthew 7:21-23 teaches us that it’s even possible to preach prophetically and cast out demons and do “many mighty works,” including growing big churches, all in the name of Jesus, but not at the bidding of his Father.
Friends, we need to pray long and hard about this truth. For without him, we cannot bear one single piece of fruit that is a glory to God and a testimony for us that we are indeed abiding in Christ. There is perhaps no single statement in the Bible that is stronger than this: apart from Christ we can do nothing.
The question becomes, then, how do we ensure that we’re abiding in the vine? First, we only abide in the vine because Jesus chose us out of the world and caused us to abide in the vine. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you…If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:16, 19, emphasis mine). It is impossible to abide in the vine until and unless Christ himself causes us to abide in the vine.
Second, the first-fruits of the vine, as it were, are the efforts we make, by God’s grace and power (Philippians 2:12-13), to ensure that we are abiding in the vine. The visible display of the fact that, by grace, we have come to abide in Christ and treasure him above all other things is our commitment to seeking Christ no matter what the cost or consequence. This is precisely why we at Glory of Christ have chosen to take as our primary values worship, community, and mission. That is, the corporate pursuit of Christ in worship and in life, the corporate pursuit of one another in formal and informal ways, and the corporate pursuit of exalting Christ in our neighborhoods and nations. For us, the bottom line is that we long with all of our hearts to bear the first-fruits of the vine by passionately seeking our nourishment from the only true vine, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the key thought for the day is this: let us humble ourselves before Christ and search our hearts to see if we are truly in the vine. And if we are in him, then let us pursue him, by grace, with all the passion we can muster. Let us rise each day with a longing to know Christ, and let us take our rest each day with a desire to thank him for all he’s done in and through us. And let us remember that apart from him we can do nothing but that in him—by abiding in him—we will bear much fruit to the glory of his name.
Prayer Focus: Pray that we will be sober and thoughtful about the fact that apart from Christ we can do nothing. Pray also that by God’s grace we will possess an ever-increasing passion and commitment to bear the first-fruits of the vine.