“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.” (John 15:5 ESV)
Our lectionary readings this week all speak about the necessity of being in Christ, or as Jesus says here in John’s gospel, abiding in Him. He is the vine, we are the branches if we are one with Him by faith. The image of God’s Kingdom as a vine is taken from the Old Testament. Israel was known as the vineyard of the Lord (Isaiah 5:1-7). Yet she proved unfaithful and unfruitful. Jesus had to come into the world to take her place, to fulfill God’s Law on behalf of not just the Jews, but all mankind. Those who do not abide in Christ, who are not connected to Him by faith are, as Jesus states, fit only to be tossed into the fire and burned.
This image of the vine and branches also tells us that if we Christians are all connected to Christ we are also all connected to one another, regardless of race or ethnicity. We draw our life’s meaning and purpose, our very identity, from Him alone. We do not have such intimate fellowship with unbelievers. Therefore, as we have seen from John’s words in His first Epistle, we must shun any spiritual alliances with those in the world. We cannot let ungodly people influence us or allow them to force us to think or act as they do because there ways produce fruit that is unrighteous and dishonoring to God.
Instead, we Christians are all partners, co-workers in the ministry of salvation. We must go out and help them to see their need for Jesus for without Him, even their good deeds are done in vain. We believers are commissioned to go into the entire world and preach the gospel. The fruit we are to bear involves witnessing to others as well as performing deeds of love, compassion, mercy, and righteousness not just for one another but also for the rest of the world so that they too may know Christ’s love and mercy through us.