The Grace of God, as His unmerited favor and mercy, has freely given us access, by initial faith (which is trusting the Faith of Jesus Himself on our behalf), to seeing and realizing more of His Grace, the power of God. This additional consciousness of Grace is also accessed by faith, and is best realized through abiding.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
A branch apart from its vine dries up and dies. It is fruitless. Unless a branch abides on its vine, it will have no life.
Christ, is The Vine. We are in Him, as branches, and He is in us, as Life. Anyone, Christians included, who, for any length of time, attempts to derive their life from any other source but their Vine, is spiritually dying – is not Free. The very nature of a Vine-abiding branch, though, is not to die, but to grow, to have life. If we abide in Christ, we can’t help but grow. We can’t help but have Life. We can’t help but bear fruit. We can’t help but be Free.
There will be growing along The Path. It is a process of growth all of our days. But this is not dependent upon time along The Path. It is not a reward for years of faithful following. It is not a result of behavior or conduct or feelings. It is, instead, a matter of dependence in eternal reality, and abiding therein.
Growth and Fruit are within us. We must rest in Life to see Them manifest.
As a branch on The Vine, we have the Life of the Vine. All of It flows from Him, into us. As the branch rests and trusts in the Vine to produce its Supply and Source, the branch is allowing the increase of the Vine. There is nothing to be done to speed up this process – it will happen naturally at the giving of the Vine.
But we can certainly hinder, quench, delay or otherwise thwart this process. And therein realize less than Freedom. If at any point, a branch is looking elsewhere for Supply and Source, it ceases to Abide and receive Supply and Source from the Vine. This free choice of wrong belief and misplaced trust, in this way, veils them from the Life of the Vine, and the Vinedresser “cuts them off.” Life and Freedom’s Flow is self-impeded until abiding begins again.
When Jesus is your Food and Drink, you will grow, and you will be Free. If you eat of any other tree, you will die for lack of Life, and be in self-induced slavery.
Freedom is not the growth itself. The Vine supplies the growth, it is His work. No, the Freedom happens (is experienced as reality) in the moment of abiding, which allows for the growth and Life of the Vine to spring forth. There is no striving to grow. To grow, we must let go.
Trusting, dying to Self, resting, waiting, seeking, asking, knocking, hoping, turning to, beholding, looking for, submitting, surrendering… The Cross we carry… The Path we walk… These are abiding. In these, Freedom is realized. Out of abiding, Growth and Life flow from the Grace of the Vine.
Abiding requires a total commitment, no looking back.
Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
I don’t believe Jesus is talking about “commitment,” or “plowing,” as a work here. There is no work in abiding, there is rest. But rest is without distraction, without “looking back.” Abiding makes The Vine the singular focus. The Kingdom of God is seen by those who are only looking at Him. Abiding eliminates distractions. Ask of all things in your life, “Is this leading me further into Christ?” Or even better… “Is this Christ, Himself?” If yes – continue and abide and grow. If not – let it go – or it will ultimately lead to your broken branch.
We become what we worship. We become what we abide in.
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