Today, I looked at a very familiar passage in John 15 about Jesus being the true vine and I am a branch connected to Him. He says that I have already been pruned and purified by the message He has given me. Then He gives this exhortation:
"Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me." - John 15:4
I asked myself if I have willfully severed myself from Jesus? What might that look like? Then I suddenly see how I can check if I had- by looking at fruitfulness in my life. What does fruit look like? Is it someone who has received Jesus in his life? Is it someone who is learning about Jesus? Is it a Bible Study full of attendees? Events I helped to create that has brought people into the Kingdom? Just what does fruit look like? I dropped my eyes to the verse 9:
"I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father's commandments and remain in His love."
How do I remain in Jesus' love? Scripture seems to be telling me when I obey His commandments, I remain in His love, just like how Jesus did to remain in His Father's love. What are Jesus' commandments? He made it amply clear to me this morning in verse
12 "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." How has Jesus loved me? Sacrificially. It is other-centred. He laid down His life for his friend. He laid down His life for me.
Then Wow. Love, love, love. When I love as Jesus loves the Father, obeying is joyful, because love received, will also reciprocated. The love relationship that Jesus has with the Father is fluidly yet concretely based on love. God showed me that loving each other is exactly like Jesus and His Father's relationship.
The fruits I will produce is the effect of my loving others. I cannot will these fruits to appear, but I can choose to love others. And by choosing to love others, I will bear much fruit. Am I choosing to love others? I think perhaps this is what it looked like the past week.
In loving others, I said yes to going out to Richmond for dinner with Karl and a friend he wanted to introduce me to. I was not feeling 100% and it was a long way to drive to Richmond, but I loved this friend of Karl's before I met her, and what God would have me do is worthwhile and joyful. I reaped the benefits of seeing her journey with Jesus in a new way.
In loving Josh (not his real name), I spent time listening to his faith journey. He had a very interesting past and had embraced many different faiths. To be able to spend time, and to hear another person's life story is a remarkable privilege to me. I was able to share in the briefest of minutes my own faith journey and how Jesus made a difference in my life.
My love tank is filled when I sit still and embrace the fullness of the cross and what Jesus did for me. For in His love with His Father, He hung on the cross for me. I am dearly loved, fully redeemed, and joyfully reinstated in His family. What a joy it is to love others the way Jesus loves me!