Remain

I am the true vine… John 5 v1

Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15 v 4

I am the vine…..you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15 v5

I am blessed to be part of a wonderful bible study group. A small group of women, from different churches who meet to study Gods word, share a meal and pray together. A group that came together through a series of God led coincidences, and which has been a blessing, support, encouragement and challenge to us all. And we are not afraid, in love, to disagree.

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And so it happened when our study and conversation came to John chapter 15 and what it means to “remain” in Jesus.  We talked a lot about quiet time, worship, rest, reflection and prayer, and, as we often do, discussed the difficulties in modern life, motherhood, working, rotas, that are barriers to these precious moments with God… It’s such a common challenge, the whole ‘spend more time in God’ application.

However there’s a danger that understanding ‘remaining’ in this way can make it an overly passive thing. Often sermons that preach this passage talk about how branches can’t help but remain, as if it’s automatic, but for me “remaining” in Jesus means something more than this. You see John Chapter 15 verse 10 goes on to say;

If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Fathers commands and remain in his love.

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So It’s more active.

It’s walking the way of love.

It’s about choice

It’s about obedience

It’s about choosing to stick with it when life is hard and faith and obedience are the painful choice, when church is hard and people are unlovely

It’s about choosing not to make the cutting remark, complaint or gossip

It’s about standing for Jesus when the world would lead us into greed, selfish ambition and self-obsession

It’s about loving actively and intentionally

It’s about obedience

I choose to remain in Jesus.  To rest in Jesus as the vine in order that I can be refreshed to obey his commands. Pray so that I can draw close and be more effective.

For me remaining isn’t passive, not just about where I stand or rest, but who I stand with, what I stand for and the difference that makes to the rest of my actions.

I don’t read these verses as separate, that Jesus will not love us if we don’t obey him. I believe that Jesus cannot love me any less; I don’t have to obey him for him to love me, his love is unconditional and unfailing and I do rest and remain in that. For me verse 10 continues and expands the theme of remaining in Jesus (“remain in me” “remain in my love”). If we want to remain in him/in his love, our response to the love and grace he offers, entirely undeserved, should be….must be…. a desire to obey him. And by our obedience we can (actively chose to) “remain in his love” and be fruitful.