VotD 1/31/19

Abide is one of those words that doesn’t have much meaning in my everyday life. I think the only time it comes up outside of church is when we’re quoting the Big Lebowski (“The dude abides!”). The dictionary definition is something like “remain, stay, or live”. So how might we rephrase this? Live in me? Remain in me? Stay in me? The Greek word here seems to be consistently translateable as “abide,” so any of these may be appropriate – or all of them. What about the context? Jesus begins this metaphor by saying that he is the true vine and his Father is the vinegrower. Abide in the True Vine – don’t wither up and die. And what withers and dies? Those who do not do good works – those who don’t “bear fruit.” So to “abide in” Jesus means to stay attached to the vine. Receive the vine’s nourishment and use it to grow fruit that others can benefit from. That’s not just doing what Jesus tells you – that’s what it looks like to remain truly alive. God won’t cut you off, but if you don’t bear fruit, your branch will shrivel up and die. And as you bear fruit, God will prune the branch so that you bear more fruit. As he explains that he is the vine and God is the vinegrower, Jesus interjects a phrase just before telling us to abide in him, one that threw me off: “You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.” My take on it this morning is that hearing the Good News about Jesus – that we don’t have to fear God’s wrath and that we’ve been gifted eternal life – is an example of God pruning us. Receiving Good News allows us to grow and bear more fruit. It’s not always bad for God to “prune” – so go and do good things for others so that you’ll grow in your relationship with Christ!