Abiding In Jesus

Notice that, when Jesus Christ wanted to give a message, it is, “If you don’t stay in Jesus Christ, you can’t have a great life.” He didn’t tell the unbelievers. He told people who are believers. Because the temptation of this life is to come to church, be religious, think we are doing everything right, and still not really be plugged into the life of Jesus Christ.  

The only thing that has changed is the names, but the message is the same. Instead of saying this to Peter, James, and John, He’s saying it to us. We’ve got to plug in to the life of Jesus Christ. If we do that, fruit is not just a possibility, it’s a certainty. But, if we don’t, all else we might pursue in the world is not going to make our life great.  

What is this fruit that Jesus is saying should be the certain product of our connection with Him?

Bearing of fruit should be a continual process for the disciple.  It’s not like there’s one day in our life where we bore some fruit.  If we are part of the vine, then we’re bearing fruit every season. In fact, isn’t that why vines are planted?  We don’t plant vines so much for ornamentation. They are not like flowers or shrubs. We plant vines to bear fruit. That’s why Jesus Christ has planted me and you. He did not plant us so He could look down and say, “Oh, aren’t those Christians pretty down there?” He has planted us so we can bear fruit.

Now, what kind of fruit does He want us to bear? Well, what usually happens at this point in this text is a passage on soul-winning. Usually it is said, “If we’re not out there winning souls, converting souls, baptizing people, we’re going to get cut off and burned.” But when we go to the Bible, we don’t read into the Scripture what we want it to say. We let the Bible interpret itself. Every time the illustration of the vine is used, it’s interesting that the fruit of the vine had nothing to do with converts.  

Let me give an illustration. For example, in Isaiah, God said, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight. And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (Isa. 5:7). When God went to His vine, what did He look for?  He looked for the moral attributes of His own nature manifesting themselves in His people.  

The purpose of “abiding” is so that the character traits of Jesus Christ can start to develop in our lives. Discipleship is a developing way of life. It’s not a static way of life. That’s why we must stay “in” the vine. Fruit is not just good deeds. We can do good deeds and not be in the vine. We can help people. We can share our food. We can share your money. We can even tell people about “religion.” But the real question is, “Are we becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ?”  You see, that’s the work of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Those are the attributes of the character of Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:22-23).  

Doing good deeds is important. Helping the poor is important. Telling people about Jesus Christ and winning souls is important. But we cannot do what we were called to do, unless we are being what we are called to be. So, when we are plugged into the vine we are connected to the life of Christ and we can develop into the kind of person God wants us to be. A person who has the fruit of the Spirit is developing, becoming more loving, more joyful, and more patient. He’s learning what peace is about.  

Bearing fruit is not so much about numbers or how many people we’ve talked to this week. It is: are we becoming more loving? Are we becoming more patient? Do we see the character of Jesus Christ developing in our lives? Because that’s what is going to happen to the disciple that truly abides in the vine.

A prayer for us: Father, we want to abide in You. We want to bear fruit. We want to be who You called us to be. We pray that as we abide in You we may bear fruit that looks like You. 

Rickie Jenkins