Only a Branch
Repeat after me…I am only a branch. That’s right…only a branch. I’m neither the vine nor the fruit. I’m a branch. I know that’s not very exciting, belittling even. But it’s helping me find peace in the midst of this crazy life.
Do you know how often I have to remind myself of this? Life is full of responsibility, to-do-lists, goals, destinations. My life must produce fruit, because, if fruitless, then what use is that? Pressure builds as I consider how much fruit we need in our world today. Not physical fruit of course, but the fruit of the Spirit. The world is in desperate need of this spiritual fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. Your own personal world no doubt needs much of the same. And personally speaking, the fruit expected of a pastor is overwhelming. Its like I need to produce enough fruit for myself and enough for ten others. So I’m calling for a halt in our effort to be fruit. That was never the intention anyway. Fruit isn’t your territory really. You have one job.
Be a branch. Be a good branch. Be a branch that finds its purpose, its sustenance, its character, its meaning in being connected, connected to the vine. You know the passage well, don’t you? “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.” (John 15:5 NASB)
Being a good branch means one thing…being connected to the vine. Apart from the vine, the branch is dead, and dead branches don’t produce any fruit. Put this together then and what you come to understand is that if your life (branch) is disconnected from the vine then the fruit, as listed above, is and will be missing from your experience. I don’t care how simple that sounds. I’m tired of overcomplicating the matter. We connect, we experience fruit as intended. The power is in the vine, and the reward is wonderful. The fruit is glorious. But if we disconnect, if we stay out of the Word, if we put off our prayer time, we reap nothing. The harvest is missing and the fruit is elusive. We might see others with fruit and we become bitter. We might be tempted to purchase plastic fruit and pretend to be alive. But our branch lies lifeless upon the ground. We dry out. We become brittle, fragile. And so we must know who and what we really are — a branch. A branch that is nothing in and of itself. It finds purpose, it enjoys fruit only when connected. We must also know the vine — the vine is Christ. The vine is not your pastor, an elder, your Bible study leader, your best friend, a spouse, that tv preacher, your bank account, the sports club or any of the many other distractions and/or imposter vines that are out there.
So be a branch, just a branch. Know your vine by connecting as a branch to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word and prayer are your path to connection. And enjoy and be satisfied in the fruit that the Lord produces upon the branches of your life. As a branch, you have one choice — connect or die.