"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. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned" (John 15:4-6).

A Call to Abide
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

In John 15:1-17, we see how Jesus' call to abide in His love is also a call to obedience. Both in John 15:12-13 and Matthew 22:37-39, we see Christ command us to love God and love others. How might we grow our love for God and others? Deepening our relationship, prayer, and time with Him. Serving others with faith, compassion, and selflessness. Abiding in the vine is accompanied by a pursuit of greater love for God and those He loves.

Here's what I so appreciate: this is not a call to try harder and to be more loving on our own. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We have grace and strength to abide through our amazing God, the creator and perfecter of our faith. “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else” (C.S. Lewis). We always approach Christ's call to abide, and in turn, to love, through the miraculous lens of the Gospel. Where and how might God be calling you to abide today?

A Call to Consider
"If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."

While I am by no means a gardener, I recognize that when a part of a plant is separated from the main vine, it can only live so long, soon becoming only a shell of its former self. Without nourishment and roots, the plant cannot survive, let alone thrive. In John 15, Jesus illustrates how by not abiding in Him, we become like such plants, eventually withering away, lacking usefulness. As a movement of Christ-centered leaders, let's not miss the significance and urgency of Jesus' call to abide. Connectedness to Him, and through Him, one another, isn't simply a nice to have if we hope to be different - it's a necessity.  

A Call to be Fruitful
"Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

As develop a consistent pattern of abiding in Jesus, we will bear fruit: righteousness, holiness, and more. However, fruit isn't perfection and it isn't something that earns us our salvation (through faith alone!). Rather, fruit is the evidence of a real relationship with Him and a transformed heart. Whether it's the blossoming flower of a changed life or the little bud of a new breakthrough, fruit is the freedom we experience through the discipline of abiding. On our ELI journey, influence, in and of itself, is not a goal to be achieved. Rather Kingdom influence (the fruit), in our workplace and in our lives, is the result of our daily pursuit of obedience and abiding in Christ's love through His power, not our own. 

Where do you find yourself this week? Abiding? Withering? Fruitful? The truth is that apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. In striving to abide well, I would encourage you to keep the promises of God ever before you. He chose you. He befriended you. He loves you. He strengthens you. He gives you faith. He lavishes grace in abundance. We obey because He is for our good. We can love because He loved us first. When we abide in Him, He abides in us. God will complete the work He began, and we can trust that He who has called you is faithful (1 Corinthians 3:71 Thessalonians 5:24)!