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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. – John 15:1-8

Today’s teaching from Jesus in John 15 is very familiar to me and many Christians, but, as I read the passage this week, I was particularly struck by the simplicity of what Christ asks his followers to do. He does not ask them to go out and preach to massive crowds or perform powerful signs and miracles. Instead he simply calls them to “abide” in him. As simple and natural as it is for a branch to cling to its mother vine, so should each disciple cling to Jesus. It is out of this close, intimate relationship that the branch is able to bear its fruit and avoid becoming useless and cast aside by the vine-keeper.

So often followers of Jesus dream of doing great things for God that truly change our world. While these dreams might indeed be part of God’s plan, Jesus is clear that all that we accomplish for God is rooted in a deep, lasting connection with Christ. If we attempt to go out in our own power and vision, our efforts will not count for anything in the Kingdom (no matter how the world might evaluate their success). But if we persevere and grow in the disciplines that keep us close to Jesus (prayer, study, worship, etc.), we will find that God will accomplish his purposes through us and bring about a great “harvest” through our lives. May we abide in Jesus today and always looking forward to the Kingdom work that will be done in and through us!