A lesson in grape-growing helps us understand how we can abide in Jesus.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
In John 15 Jesus describes himself as the true vine, his Father as the vinedresser, and his followers as the branches (John 15:1-5). He exhorts us to stay connected to him (abiding in Him) so we can bear much fruit. If we don’t, our efforts will amount to nothing. I recently learned some interesting facts about vineyards that hold some powerful lessons for us. We would think that rocks are not conducive to a fruitful vineyard, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In Old and New Testament times, rocks were used to lift vine branches above the surface of the ground. If they made contact with the soil, they would send out their own roots, and wither their connection to the vine. It’s easy to see where I’m going with this.
A branch doesn’t get to decide where it will grow. It just grows. The vine-dresser, however, does everything in his power to make the branches productive, bearing delicious grapes. He wants all the nourishment to come from the vine he planted, so he lifts the branches up above the ground.
AS I SEE IT
We are to be in this world but not of it. Our contact with the world cannot be avoided. In fact, it is necessary if we are to carry out our most important mission, introducing lost souls to the Savior. But we must guard against drawing our nourishment from the world and its ways. We must never send our own roots downward as we try to “serve the Lord.”
Serving God the world’s way is oh, so easy to do. The world offers a myriad of counterfeit systems and methods that offer success, or so it seems. This applies to us individually and to our churches. God wants us to have such an intimate relationship with Him that we know, not only what He wants us to do, but how it should be done. He wants us to join Him in what He is already doing, because if He has planned it, it will succeed. It probably isn’t the way we would have done it, because we seldom see the big picture the Lord is painting.
We tend to be results oriented, and we are drawn to the world’s methods that promise results. When things don’t turn out as we planned, we are so committed to the world that we just try harder and send our roots deeper into the world. Eventually, we feel ourselves drying up and realize that our connection to the vine has dried up. We have become worthless and will be thrown into the fire.
God knows our tendencies, and fortunately for us, He tries to protect us from ourselves and our predators. This brings us to the second thing I recently learned. During the grape-growing season, the vine-dresser and his entire family lived in the watchtower which overlooked the vineyard. Someone was always watching out for natural predators and thieves.
The watchtower served as a symbol of God’s continual protective watchfulness over Israel and His people. He still watches over His people, but it’s up to us to seek the nourishment of the true vine instead of the world’s ways, no matter how enticing they appear. God never asks His people to follow a method, regardless of how successful it seemed to work for someone else. He asks us to follow Him, the only one who offers guaranteed success if we agree to follow His plan for what He has chosen to do. While God watches over us, He doesn’t override our free will. He allows us to live by the consequences of our choices in hopes that we will eventually realize our mistake and change course.
The better method is to continue to abide in the true vine, avoiding the costly consequences of responding to the world’s enticing offers.
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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Time is just nature’s way to keep everything from happening at once.
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