Tag Archives: Christian

The Vine and the Branches

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

My family has traveled a lot this summer. We also have a large vegetable garden. Those two things didn’t go together terribly well. While we had some friendly neighbors come water in exchange for picking whatever they wanted while we were gone, we still had a few of our plants die, or stop producing earlier than they should have. We also acquired some serious weeds… and I mean REALLY enormous and gnarly ones.

The worst, perhaps, was a vine. Now, I don’t know much about most weeds, but I do recognize most of the common ones I see in our garden. Obviously we try to get them out before they’re huge, but this vine escaped my clippers for long enough to be quite entwined with our okra plants and was starting on the kale. It seemed to all originate from one spot, but it had spread across the ground, and climbed up every single okra plant, of which there are eight, and they’re all taller than me. You can imagine my disdain for this vine once I finally got around to pulling it up and out of the garden bed.

As I hacked away at this stubborn vine, snipping here, pulling there, rescuing my plants from the surprisingly strong vine that had almost consumed them, I kept remembering Jesus’s words from John 15: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (ESV) Jesus had likened himself to the vine, and the Father to the vinedresser. He likens us to branches, knowing that we may not do anything on our own, if detached from the vine. But stemming from Jesus, being nurtured by his love, his encouragement, and even his admonishment, we are to bear much fruit. In fact, no fruit can be borne if we aren’t being filled by the Holy Spirit.

The more I thought about this strong vine, I noticed the way it had almost lovingly curled itself around each plant, not too tight, but swirling its way up the stalks, around each leaf, splitting off in different directions to leap across to the next plant, and the next. There were also little white flowers sprouting from a few parts of the vine that had been there the longest. This gently flowering vine had made its home, nestled in the garden bed with the good soil I had prepared and tended and watered. The more I noticed the vine’s intricacies, the more I almost began to admire it. You know, if it hadn’t been smothering my beloved (and thankfully resilient) okra.

This strong vine began to serve as an example of how when we allow ourselves to be rooted in something as powerful and good as Jesus, we can be the branches, sent out into the world, lovingly coming alongside others, blossoming and bearing fruit. We can accept and share the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5), those gifts that Jesus has offered, knowing fully that apart from him, we really can do nothing.

Being Wild and Free in Jesus

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

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Y’all, I’m reading this amazing book right now. It’s called Wild and Free, and as you can imagine, it’s about finding your wildness and your freedom in Jesus. I was pretty sure I was going to know what the authors would say. I’ve read books like this before. I would know which scriptures they’d reference, and know where they were going before they got there. I’ve read and heard a lot about how Jesus set us all free. BUT Y’ALL. The Holy Spirit was ready to wreck me with this one.

When you’ve grown up in church, and you’ve been under similar teachings most of your life, I’d imagine that sometimes you feel like what you hear is a little watered down. You’ve heard 150 references to rams in thickets, and you know that freedom is in Jesus just as well as you know your last name. Even the most awesome miracles might seem to lose their luster once you’ve heard the story for the 101st time.

But as much as I felt like I already knew what was coming, I’ve been taken aback on every page, being beckoned into wildness in Jesus. I’ve reveled in the descriptions of how wild the first believers were, how free Adam and Eve were created to be before the fall, and how every single one of us is called back to a total belonging to the Lord, that can result in true freedom to be yourself and be wild in the complete love of Christ. The body of Christ doesn’t have to be a somber group of people, faces downcast, working hard for their salvation. And it shouldn’t be! The body of Christ should be individuals who are freely themselves, being together in community, encouraging one another, filling gaps, shaping and molding each other, just as iron sharpens iron, to share the Gospel and prepare the Kingdom of God! There is joyful news to be told, love to be shared, and lives to be healed! We sang this yesterday at my church: “You are stronger, You are stronger. Sin is broken. You have saved me. It is written: Christ is risen! Jesus, you are Lord of all!” There is no better truth to proclaim. The chains have indeed been broken – you are already free! Jesus has done the great work, and God is ready to do a great work in you, too.

 

If you’d like to get your hands on the book Wild and Free, here’s a link to get it on Amazon.