No one likes to hear that they’re prideful, deceitful, and manipulative. But that’s exactly how the Enneagram, a wonderful, yet sometimes painful personality tool, describes me, a type two. Though it is hard to admit sometimes, I do tend to lean towards self-preservation. I lean heavily on my successes and let myself be defined by my failures. I work, lead, and essentially live out of my own effort, not only in the leading of my ministry, but it steeps into every area of my life as well.
But as Christians, followers of Jesus, He asks just the opposite of us.
In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples that He is the true vine and we are only just the branches. To produce any fruit, any fruit that is even worth bearing, we must remain and abide in Jesus. And through this interaction with the disciples, Jesus tells us exactly how and why to do this.
1. Jesus is the source. Verse 5 of chapter 15 says “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (NLT). When we try to work, lead, or minister out of own efforts, thinking that WE can do it on our own, with our OWN strength and might, who gets the glory in that? Ourselves. Sure, we may produce some fruit, maybe even looks like the real thing, it MAY even taste like fruit, but without abiding, it means nothing. It’s worthless, a waste of time. Jesus is the source, the true vine. He is our foundation and our reason.
2. We must remain and abide. When we received Jesus, we died to ourselves. We are no longer living for our own plans, but for the Kingdom of God. We are conduits of God’s spirit, who leads and guides us to do all things. “When you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love…” (Jn 15:10 NLT). To remain and abide in God, we are called to love God and love his children (Mt 22:37-40). When we do these things in our work, we produce fruit that not only far outweighs what we could do on our own, but fruit that MATTERS and has purpose for more than just this life.
When we do these, remain and abide, Jesus also says that our joy will be made complete. Finished. Perfect. (Jn 15: 11). And this joy is not just fleeting feelings of happiness and a life of ease, but the joy of knowing we are right with God and that He is pleased with us, before our fruit has even been produced.
So, remain in the love that God has for you. Abide, live and dwell, but also obey and observe the Father.