Hanging on the Vine, Loving Out Loud, and Standing in the Face of Persecution. What Does it All Mean?

Lately, I've been taking a large group of first responders and their spouses through the study of John.  Yesterday I had them read John 15, which offers timely truths from Jesus to not only His disciples, but for us as well.  Let's take a peek at what we learned!

As we read Chapter 15, I hope you took in account that Jesus was saying all of this to His disciples the night before His crucifixion. How important these final words must be!

Let's take a closer look...

Jesus said, "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." (vs. 5)

Have you ever had a garden? How important is the vine to the rest of the plant? What happens if you cut the vine? Obviously, the vine is the lifeline to the overall health and vitality to the plant and fruit. If the vine is cut, the whole thing will shrivel up and die. Fruit cannot happen unless the vine is sustaining the plant.

So it is with our relationship with Christ. If we are not connected to the vine (Jesus), then we will shrivel up and die spiritually. No good thing will come out of us, but we will only live for ourselves, bringing forth rottenness and distasteful produce.

Yet, if we stay connected to our Lord, then we will bear much fruit - fruit that will last and will be a refreshment to others.

Next, Jesus was big on love. In verse 12, he says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

We often see that verse attributed to cops, and it is partly true. They do, in essence, lay down their life for complete strangers, yet what Jesus was saying here is each of us are commanded to love others, so much so that we would do whatever it takes to help them...serve them....be there for them, point them to Him, even if that means setting aside our own lives, our own desires, our own wishes, our own comfort. Hard lesson. One that I still struggle with every day.

Lastly, Jesus prepared them for the hate that would come on account of Him.

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (vs. 18-19)

Look at our own world today. It is quickly turning its back on Christians and those who take a stand for truth. Persecution is rampant. People are being slaughtered for their faith. So we have to ask ourselves....Will I stand? Will I stand even if it means my life?

We have to make a decision today. We can either take the easy road and blend in with the world yet lose our soul, or we can stand for what is right and true and possibly lose everything we hold dear. YET, we have hope! God tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Those who stand strong to the end will reap eternal reward with Him in heaven.

I don't know about you, but I'm standing.

Blessings to you all today.