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Grape, grape Jesus

Wednesday, May 5, 1999

John 15:4
Jesus says, "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."

One of Amy Grant's lesser known songs:

"I am a small and lonely grape,
Clutching to the vine
Waiting for the day when I'll
Become my Savior's wine...."

My way is too often to be a big grape on a small vine of my own making. But Jesus is painfully clear about the "true" vine being himself. For the results of my life to be significant and meaningful I must choose to attach myself to him and stay there.

Since I live my life one day at a time, I often lose track of what's significant and what isn't. Emotions color my thoughts; other people's opinions matter too much. Choices I make are sometimes made because I forget which vine I'm on. When that happens God has been gracious enough to continue his pruning (Jn 15:1-2). For example, he has prevented my conscience from being seared into numbness by selfish living. Over and over He puts others in my path who remind me of his love.

Since his vine is so nutritious, I get healthy when I stay on it. My life seems to have growing meaning and value, outside of whatever I may accomplish. And it's wonderful freedom to be part of something larger than myself, to be a "small and not-so-lonely grape."

At Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis, Gary Johnson preaches his sermon in three parts: the Bible story, personal application, and "congregational" application. Every week the 2,000 or so people who listen to him are reminded that they are part of a "we." They have the opportunity to join and remain in a community, a "church family," so to speak. Over time this experience grinds away at selfishness and makes people more sensitive to each other. No wonder the Bible continually encourages us to be part of a larger whole. Despite its potential for abuse, a church congregation is the right place to practice community, to surrender more and more of my self-centeredness, and thereby to "remain" in Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus. You sustain me.

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