A couple years ago one of our neighbors gave my family some clippings from their raspberry bush. My wife was able to get it planted in a good spot in our backyard with plenty of sunshine and water. Now we have a great source of picture perfect and tasty raspberries, far better than I’ve purchased at any store. Not many of these raspberries make it in the house as the whole family seems to eat them directly off the bush just as soon as they are ripe.
About a month ago a couple branches broke off. It was probably the fault of our hyperactive border collie. (Does anyone have some sheep I can borrow? This guy needs a job!) My wife happened to find those right away and put them in a tall jar of water in hopes of propagating the plant. As it turns out, some fruit was already developing on the unintended clippings. Being a bit of an opportunist when it comes to food, the moment the fruit appeared ripe I picked them. They looked amazing and I was prepared to enjoy a nice treat. But those were the worst raspberries I’ve ever had. They were bitter and hard. As it turns out, fruit from a broken, detached branch is no good at all.
In the Gospel of John chapter 15, Jesus made a bold claim. He said that he is the vine and the Father is the gardener. Jesus explained that the Gardener constantly cuts off the branches that don’t bear fruit and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Then Jesus explained further, “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.” He was of course talking about people and not plants at this point.
This word “remain” is translated from the Greek word “menō,” which is also translated “abide” and “stay.” It is a picture of mutual indwelling – Christ in us and us in Christ. Through the work that Christ initiated, God makes his home in us and we have the privilege of abiding in him.
Later in this same chapter Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit … This is my command: love each other.” How good is it to be chosen by God himself! God gives our lives value. And then he commissioned us for a noble and meaningful task – to go and produce lasting fruit. God gives us purpose. We are to produce lasting fruit. How? By abiding in Christ and by loving each other. In other words, we are to remain connected to the True Vine and we are to remain connected to others.
Thinking of the raspberries, the only ones I want are the ones that stay connected to the vine. These have value and are a delight. While the disconnected raspberries looked great, they were of no value and no purpose. This analogy holds true of us too. Stay connected to the vine – the True Vine – and show the world what the Lord has done for you.
This appeared in The Sheridan Press on September 2, 2022.