“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
I have been spending a lot of time brooding on this passage from John’s Gospel. Brooding is the word that Packer and Nystrom use in Praying, for the Christian practice of meditating upon the Scriptures. It is a wonderful and descriptive word which ushers us into the heart of a way of living that is centred upon the prayerful application of the Word of God to our lives. In looking carefully at this text of Scripture I have been struck once again by the vital necessity of remaining in the Lord Jesus Christ. Actually I prefer to translate this word with “abide” or “live.” What our Lord is telling us here is that we can accomplish nothing in our lives as believers apart a living relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. Hudson Taylor called this “the exchanged life” in Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. It is a looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ as the faithful one. He will always keep His promise to us. He has promised to dwell in our hearts through faith as we are indwelt by His Holy Spirit. It seems to me that Jesus is calling His disciples to a conscious step of faith where they seek from God the promised Spirit that He will give to all who seek it.
What this calls us to is a life of faithful, obedient, abiding prayerfulness. We are to be those who earnestly seek and expect God to fulfill His promise and give His Spirit to those who seek Him through faith. Apart from this active living in the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, nothing of eternal blessing can ever be accomplished. This is where my brooding has come in because as a Pastor I am aware that too often the work that I do is in fact my work, not His. It is accomplished in my own strength, not His. It leaves me feeling as if I am apart from Him, not living in vital fellowship with Him. The consequence is that I find myself too often building a Kingdom of this world rather than the Kingdom of God. In addition I find that my methods and approach actually work against creating the type of abiding which we so desperately need.
In my brooding I am sensing a calling for us to become much more focused on developing an intentional prayerful abiding in Christ. This is a call for all who love our Lord to be committed to a growing life of prayer, seeking to understand what it is that God calls us to as we abide in the Lord Jesus Christ. I will be exploring this theme this fall in the Adult Sunday School class I teach. I will also be intentional in calling others to a committed, obedient, prayerful abiding in Christ. Our hope is to incorporate this way of living into everything that we do. If you too hear this call to prayerful abiding won’t you commit yourself again to this lifestyle of abiding?