New International Version
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Remaining means doing nothing else but to hang in there. To stay connected. A branch doesn’t separate from the vine by itself. With no external forces, it does nothing but remain (KJV says ABIDE). The branch has to be removed by something. If something doesn’t remove it, it remains, receiving the life giving elements from the vine. Most importantly, it bears fruit, which is filled with the same life giving elements.
There were hardly any evangelical churches around when we lived in Cancun Mexico. We searched for months. Finally, in Playa del Carmen, I found an evangelical church called ‘The Remanent’ or in other words, those who remained. Happily, on Sunday morning, I packed up the wife and kids and we went to ‘TheRemanent’ church. To our dismay, it had a big ‘For Sale’ sign on it when we arrived, and no one was there. Dean Jr. said,’ that’s just wrong!’ My first impression was that they didn’t have the finances to keep it open. Outside forces removed the branch from the vine. Whoever started it had a dream, a vision. For one reason or another, it didn’t happen. No fruit.
Remaining is harder that it seems. People get swept up in emotions. They have a moment, then they start a movement! Remaining, although you aren’t doing anything to remain but remaining, is extremely difficult. Emotions are the enemy of ‘Remaining’. Feelings, boredom, fear, reactions, all make us uncomfortable. When we are experiencing these things, it is extremely difficult to just sit still, and know that God is in control. There are always pleasant distractions as well, luring one away from the tried and proven. These same emotions are the enemy of faith, which is a requirement for remaining. Stillness and Feelings are very difficult to keep in the same room together.
We need to make sure we remain, or abide, in the Lord. We need to be attached to Him, to abide. People can have a false sense of faith or insecurity. Many are attached to something different from the true vine. They can can trust in artificial things, like a plastic Jesus on the dash board of their car, a horse shoe or a lady bug, but their faith is unfounded. Faith in such things will bear no fruit. If their faith is in God, then they are basing their faith in something real and true. It may seem mysterious, but they are trusting in God, remaining in Him. Not because of what they see visibly, but in the invisible. They are attached to the true Vine, and they are abiding there, because that is where their life comes from.
Maybe people don’t remain attached to the vine (Jesus) because they are looking for something that we haven’t seen in the church, or that they’ve become numb to. People run sometimes because they are being rejected somehow. Pastors and missionaries quit because they don’t see fruit, or they are afraid of financial problems or politics, so they run. It is easy to let outside forces separate one from the vine.
Jesus says Remain! Stay with Him, and we will bear fruit. To bear fruit, we have to be connected to the vine. What options do we have? None! Peter said, ‘where should we go Lord? Only you have the words of Life’. Remain, abide in Him, and His truth. Keep doing what you know is right, irregardless of what makes sense, what you see, or your feelings. Do what you know is right, feeding the hungry, sharing the Gospel, visiting the sick, helping the poor. Just because you are not ‘feeling it’, or afraid to do it, doesn’t mean that God isn’t a part of it. Faith is knowing that IF it is of God, He will see it through to fruition. He will bear fruit.
Show your love to others. Don’t be guided by feelings. Abide in the faith that saves. Help those who are wavering. That’s what we do. We minister to children, to help them to remain in the Vine. So they can bare fruit in their own lives.