Bible Reading - John 15:1-17
Continuing with this month's Sermon Series, the 'I AM' Sayings of Jesus Christ, today we'll be looking at Jesus statement, 'I AM' the True Vine. I love these verses! This image was one that really spoke to me in my coming to understand our faith. Although I grew up in a Christian home, I felt my faith was somewhat filtered through my parents. This wasn't anyone's falt in particular, I believe it is part of our rearing our kids in the faith, we try to be an example to them until they can make decisions for themselves. Well, this really hit home for me when I considered Christ’s words: “Remain in me, as I also 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” (Jn. 15:4). It felt like Christ was challenging me to enter into a deeper relationship with Him than I had know previously! Meanwhile, there are many in the world today who would say that it is better to not be grafted to Christ - but to try and make it under one's own steam!
I’ve never heard people speak so much about religion being a ‘crutch’ as I have in Adelaide… and it has been in the context of my studies, pastoral care training, family ministry and multicultural ministries in Adelaide that I have reflected more and more on these passages and there has been one significant truth that comes through. God is not offering us a crutch!
God is not saying, ‘if you are with me… things will be easier,’ or ‘if you are with me things will be better all the time…’ We don’t follow the ‘party fun time’ God, we don’t follow the ‘buddy Jesus’! We follow the Christ who said, “take up my yoke…” (Mt. 11:29). For this reason, we cannot hope to do it on our own, we must be grafted onto Him and discover what we can in the service of our Lord through Christ Himself.
What a beautiful promise this is! It is a promise of God’s care and love for us… no matter our circumstances. So as we are asked to cling to Christ, to be grafted to the eternal vine, we must remember that God’s invitation is that we walk with Him; be it through ‘pastures green’ or ‘valleys of the shadow of death’. Jesus does not promise it will be easy, but He does promise that He will always be with us… ‘even to the end of the age’ (Mt. 28:20). This is particularly true for me today as my youngest daughter is being brought forth to be dedicated. In this way, we have decided that she can choose when she would like to be baptised and discover her own faith journey at a stage where she might be ready to make that committment. In a way, I feel like we are 'grafting' her onto the Vine... but we know that this won't be a true grafting until she herself makes a comittment to the Lord. In the mean time we can continue to be an example of the faith that we enjoy as members of the Vine.