“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
I remember the first time I gave roses to a girl. It was Valentine’s Day. We’d been dating for six months, and I was smitten.
I wish I could say those roses lasted for months and that she woke every morning reminded of my romantic ways. The fact is they wilted and died within a week. Good thing for me she understood the fate of cut flowers. Footnote: I had other chances to buy her roses, and she eventually became my wife.
No matter how beautiful the bouquet or how much of that stuff you pour in the water to keep flowers looking fresh, they always fade and die after being cut. That’s what happens to a branch or stem separated from the rooted plant.
Picturing the vine and branch helps us keep “the main thing” the main thing. Christ is the living vine, the only source of life. We are the branches who draw power and usefulness from him. Apart from our connection to and relationship with Christ, we’re useless! Our fruitfulness depends on the fruit maker – Jesus.
Here’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way: Disciples must be “vine grown.” I don’t have the juice to do it and you don’t either! Disciple making is the work of Christ through his church. He’s the source of power and we’re the conduits. Staying connected to God through humble submission, trust, abiding in his word, and ongoing prayer allows us to serve as intentional pathways of his love to other people.
It’s easy to exhibit a temporary facade of good works through our own efforts. As a rose cut from the bush slowly wilts, however, labor that lacks connection with God soon fades to nothing.
To fully understand Jesus’ teaching on the vine and branch connection is to be liberated from the tyranny of trying to accomplish things in the flesh. Once we grasp the futility of our own efforts, we can rest in the peace of humbly abiding in Christ and serve as his Spirit empowers and directs us.
Stay connected to the Vine!