I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
No one takes a branch off of an apple tree, lays it in a bowl and expects an apple to grow from the cut off branch. We don’t snap off small limbs of peach, pear or orange trees, set those branches aside and look for their respective fruits to grow. No matter how much we water the branch or how much sun we give it, those branches will remain fruitless. They are unattached to the tree and therefore they are non-fruit bearing. The vine is how the branch gains nourishment. The vine supports the branch and gives it strength. The vine is the vehicle which allows the branch to produce fruit. The branch is unable to produce anything apart from the vine.
We understand this simple concept of growing and producing fruit, yet when it comes to spiritual fruit, this is an area too many struggle with. To grow and produce fruit, we must be attached to the vine. Jesus defines Himself as the vine so therefore we must be attached to Him to produce fruit. There is no other way to produce fruit.
There are many times we may be tempted to do something (produce fruit) apart from Jesus. We might be encouraged to engage our culture in such a way as to hide our relationship with Jesus. We be asked to “tone it down with that whole Jesus thing” at some event. Some churches even fall into this temptation by wishing to host events with any mention of God.
There once was a time when I was asked to offer some advice to a local church that wished to start a men’s ministry. My first suggestion was to begin a regular men’s Bible study. The response I received from my suggestion was disappointing. “Oh no, we don’t want to mention anything about the Bible. We just want to get guys together to go fishing or something. Then maybe weeks or months later we might mention having a Bible study.” I left the conversation knowing their attempt at men’s ministry was not going to succeed. They were trying to produce fruit without being attached to the vine.
Producing fruit as a believer can be difficult at times. It can be painful, laborious and even discouraging. But trying to produce fruit when you are not attached to the vine, Jesus, is completely impossible.
That is why Bible study, fellowship with other believers, wise counsel, prayer etc all part of being attached to the vine. Being nourished by Him strengthens us and equips us. Being attached to the vine gives us support. But most importantly, being attached to the vine allows us to produce fruit.
Sometime when we don’t think we’re making a positive impact in our communities or within the lives of those around us, it might be that we aren’t being nourished by the vine, Jesus Christ. We’re working hard, but if we aren’t working under His direction with His Strength, we are no more fruitful that a branch that’s separated from the vine.
We are to bear fruit and that only happens when we are attached to the vine, Jesus Christ.