Cultivating the spiritual connection with Christ
Photo by Sven Finger on Unsplash
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4, RSV)
I’ve found that one of the most important things I can do to sustain and grow in my relationship with Christ is simply to abide in Him. The word “abide” means to remain. When I remain connected to Jesus, He produces in me good works that are beneficial to the world around me. By contrast, when I remove myself from Jesus, who is the source of my sustenance and strength, I falter in doing the good things He has designed for me to do.
The activity of abiding
The command and promise of Jesus states that we must abide in Him. While Jesus’ metaphor of a vine and its branches may seem a bit foreign to us, it made perfect sense to those in the agricultural society of Jesus’ day. Jesus’ listeners could easily grasp the importance of each branch of a plant being an offshoot of its connecting vine.
Jesus reminds his hearers that He is the proverbial vine, and we, the branches, must stay connected to Him. When we do that, the fruits of good works are produced naturally, or perhaps I should say, supernaturally, in and through us.
Furthermore, the fact that Jesus commands us to abide must mean that there are some practical things that we can do to cultivate this life-giving relationship. Here’s where the Word of God and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion come into play. These things are the lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus. They nourish us and help us to grow.
The passivity of abiding
While we can and should participate in the things God is doing in our lives, abiding in Christ is largely a passive act. Jesus, after all, as the vine, is the source of our strength and vitality as branches. Apart from Him, we can do no good thing. We must never see ourselves as the fruit-producers in our relationship with Christ, only the bearers of the good fruit produced in us.
Abide in Jesus. Find your source for all good things in and through Him. Rest in His love and grace. Flourish in His presence and strength. Abide in Him and see what He can do.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and grace. Thank you, too, that I have a part to play in the good things you are doing. May I always abide in you. In your holy name I pray, Amen.