In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass. It is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick. Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful pruning, the vine produces several tons of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them. It is this fact that Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Christians have been called together as a community. We are not here simply to enjoy each other's company. We are not here solely to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives. Both of these are vital. But there is another vital purpose for our existence: to prepare ourselves to bear fruit in the community. That is why Jesus is indispensable to our mission. Without a personal link to the Vine, our fruit-bearing potential disappears and together we degenerate into a social club with a few good ideas but with no power to really help anyone. I meet people everywhere who have a great emptiness within them—a God-shaped emptiness. That is because they have consistently ignored their need for a relationship with the Vine and are literally starving to death. They desperately need what we represent and are being prepared to share with them, if we remain in Him!
Always remember this: Christ is the Vine; we are the branches. Our purpose is to bear fruit. We are not to lose heart when times get difficult. We are to offer those hard times to God and allow Him to use them as acts of pruning that we might bear even more fruit in the days ahead. Only He is the Judge of our fruit. A word of kindness, a deed of compassion, a faith shared—these may be judged the best fruit of all.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship