“Read More” to pursue answers in the Gospel of John .
Draw me into your holy Presence, that I might know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ in this world, and the world to come. Amen.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Whenever I’ve read this in the past, I’ve usually looked at it from the viewpoint of the vine — usually in the negative sense, worrying about what would be cut off! In my healthier moments I focused on the fruit, but now I wonder if I should’ve been focusing on Jesus. Especially since this seems to be an encouragement, not a warning:
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
In particular, this seems to be about receiving the Word:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
“Ask what ye will” is one of those phrases we could easily dismiss as trite, but in context it is quite profound. Jesus seems to be implying that if we truly “get in touch” with who he is and what he wants, then God’s power will suffuse everything we attempt.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
And how do we abide?
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full.
Love is the means, and joy is the metric. It really does all come back to love:
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
I find it ironic how many people mock me for claiming “love” (and the Bible) as the basis of my faith, even though their primary beef with Christians is how poorly we love. In light of passages like this it would be amusing, except for the fact that “we are the only Bible most people ever read” — and what they come away with hasn’t been very pretty.
This tragedy is compounded by how clearly Jesus reveals his heart of love:
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Even in the midst of hate:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
One of my deepest griefs is how so many Christians — including myself! — react out of fear and anger when we are hated. Perhaps because we have forgotten Jesus’ command to remember:
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
Now, this is fascinating. I know that often non-Christians hate us legitimately for the evil things we actually do. But, I’ve also experience a level of vitriol and irrationality that seemed totally disproportionate and caught me completely off guard. The difference, perhaps, is that some people genuinely hate the manifestations of Christian evil because they *do* love (and pursue!) truth, compassion, and humility. Others, though, merely want to tear us down to make themselves feel better:
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
Which is why our acts of compassion — and demonstrations of divine power — are essential to help differentiate between those two classes:
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But [this cometh to pass], that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
And how can we do such works?
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
God, pour out your Spirit upon me. I submit myself to your love, and your word, that my joy may be complete. Father, may I only be hated without cause, by those that hate you — and only for reaching out to them in the power of your love. Lord, I long to abide with you, and know your joy. Fill me with the Spirit of truth, that all the things I ask for may only be in your name, in which I pray. Amen.