“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:4-8 NLT
Can I be honest for a moment? One of my least favorite gifts to receive is flowers.
I appreciate the kindness behind the gift, and I smile and truthfully admire the flowers’ colors and vibrancy. When they are fresh and flourishing, they are beautiful, and if they could just stay that way it would all be fine, but what I dread is knowing that I am going to watch them slowly wither and die.
There’s nothing I can do about it. I look after them as well as I can. I trim the stems, I add the flower food, and I make sure the water is topped up, but I know that all it will do is prolong their life by a few days. In the end it is futile, because they have been cut off from their source of life.
Apart From Him We Can Do Nothing
Jesus paints a similar picture in John 15, when He talks about Himself as the grapevine and His followers as the branches. If we remain in Him, we will flourish and bear much fruit, but apart from Him we can do nothing.
Let’s just pause and appreciate the strength of Jesus’ statement here. He is not saying that apart from Him we can do some good things but that to truly flourish we are better with Him. He is saying that apart from Him, we can do nothing. We are completely dependent on Him for our life, our power, our impact for Him and His Kingdom.
As I read about the branches that are detached from the vine being thrown away and deemed useless, I picture those dying flowers. I want to make sure that I’m not one of them, and I want to do all that I can to help others avoid the same fate.
If there’s one thing sadder than a withering bunch of flowers, it’s a withering Christian.
How Do We Flourish
So, how can we make sure that we flourish as followers of Jesus? In one sense, it’s simple: remain in Him.
How that works out practically will be different for each of us – there’s not a one-size-fits-all formula – but the starting point is recognizing our dependence on Him. That is what is going to help us to flourish.
If we recognize that, we will naturally do the things that keep us close to Him. We will read His Word because we know we need to hear His voice. We will pray because we know we need His help and guidance. We will join with other believers because we know that we can strengthen and encourage one another to flourish in our walk of faith. In order to flourish, we must remain deeply rooted.
Why not take a moment to consider what steps you can take today to enable you to flourish?
May we not be like those flowers which look attractive, but which are slowly dying. May we instead be deeply rooted, firmly joined to the vine, being renewed each day regardless of our circumstances because we draw our strength from Jesus.
May we truly flourish!