“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
I used to think I had to earn my way into God’s family. Now I know I was home before I started.
When Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches,” He meant it. Think about it. We are not severed from Him.
One of the most impactful things I’ve learned about Christianity is the incredibly audacious reality that we are intertwined with Jesus. But sometimes we live like sleepwalkers, groping in the dark, trying to fight our way back to the Vine. We’ve caught onto the lie that we’re not already branching off of Him, getting our life from what’s coursing through His veins. I used to spend so much time thinking I was separate from God, trying to be enough to get His attention. I practically broke myself in effort to be good enough to earn His approval. I got so caught up in the fog of guilt and shame that I was blinded to God’s good mood and smiling face. If you ever feel encouraged to live that way, under the immense pressure of disappointment or “good-enough,” you’re not alone. But after spending time with Jesus, I can assure you that Papa does not intend for us to live that way and He has carved a path for us straight into wild freedom and delightful belonging. Papa’s Kingdom is like a feast where you know that you know that you know you belong.
If we used to be severed from the Vine because of sin, that is not true any more. The church was never supposed to forget Jesus’ finished work at Calvary. Thankfully, God loves reminding us. The Son of God took us on, took our sin, and took the punishment. That won’t ever stop being true. Jesus reconciled us to God. He brought us back to His Dad, scooped us up in His arms, and carried us Home.
Jesus’ statement, “you are the branches,” is a divine invitation, a well-worn welcome mat. He’s not telling us to earn our places in Him, He’s telling us what our place already is. He’s the vine, and we are connected to Him. Life as a branch looks a lot like surrender. It feels a lot like simply believing that we’re in Him. First you abide, then He produces fruit. Once we have that down, there’s no telling what Jesus will do! The Good News Promise tells us that there will be undeniable fruit, the fingerprints of the Holy Spirit.
I think the best way to have a deeper connection with Jesus is to simply know and believe that you already are connected to Him. We can’t abide in Him until we know that we’re fully welcomed and wanted. We can’t remain in Him until we know that remaining is more surrender than work. Papa God did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. Even through the storm of human emotions, Jesus stays consistent. While our opinions of Him and ourselves may vary, His opinion of us never changes. His constant verdict is Love. His always-attitude is commitment and joy.
That’s why He calls Himself the Groom. It doesn’t matter what you do because the aisle is always leading to Jesus. You’re on your way to Him. He made it that way. Accept that you are accepted. Run head on and know that rejection is not something the Father of Jesus dishes out. He’s an open-arms kind of Dad and He spared nothing in the pursuit of welcoming you into His family. Despite the lies, the walls, and the fear in our way, our identity cannot change. You’re in Him. You’re beloved and living off of the Vine.
He is the Vine, we are intertwined with Him. No matter where we go, we’re rooted in Him. And He wouldn’t have it any other way. I dare you to believe it.