We are continuing a six week sermon series titled, Connected – My Life in the Church. I recently had someone ask me, what is life about? Why are we here? As a Christian I believe life is about connecting to and serving God. Church Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries said, “the Christian life is about serving a cause greater than yourself”.
At the core of this Christian life is relationship. In the movie Into the Wild a young man desperately wanted to get away from the world and all people and live life alone. He found an isolated spot in Alaska and was experiencing the great outdoors like never before. However, it wasn’t long before he came to this truth; “Happiness isn’t real unless it’s shared”.
The connections we make in this life are essential to not only serving God but to tapping into all that God promises such as peace, joy and love. When we isolate ourselves we are separating ourselves from all resources that cultivate that peace, joy and love.
Scripture John 15:1-11
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [a]takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me,he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw theminto the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[b] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and thatyour joy may be full.
If we step back one chapter to 14 we see the last thing Jesus said was, “arise lets go from here.” Chapter 15 recounts the events taken place on Thursday evening just prior to Jesus’ arrest. The disciples had just finished the Passover meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and they are leaving the upper room walking to the garden. By this time the next day Jesus will be on the cross. This passage represents the farewell message Jesus teaches to his disciples. He uses a metaphor to teach the importance of staying close to him and following his teaching.
Four truths we learn from this scripture
- We are an extension of Jesus Christ (John 15:1; 4-5a).
Ephesians 2:17-22 says, And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
When Jesus died on the cross the ground shook and veil in the most holy of holies place tore in two. This represented the institution of the New Covenant. No longer would God be secluded to a back room and off limits. Through Jesus we all have access to God and the Temple of God today is each believer’s heart. God is not only with us, he is inside of us.
- There is an expectation from Jesus Christ (John 15:10).
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
As disciples we are expected to keep God’s commandments. However, through Christ we acquire everything we need to do so and we are in his strength not our own.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- We become useless separated from Jesus Christ (John 15:4; 6).
Jesus used the metaphor of a vine and its branches to demonstrate the relationship we have with Jesus. Abiding in him allows us to be strong, to grow and produce fruit.
Paul taught about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
- Joy comes from our relationship with Jesus (John 15:11)
John 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Proverbs 10:28 – The hope of the righteous will be JOY, But the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Staying connected through Christ allows us as the church to operate the way God intended, as one body. Our Church Mission is To grow a strong, united church family, to help the hurting and hopeless, to teach people about Jesus and help them grow in their faith and to impact our community for Christ by reaching out in love. We can only do accomplish this by staying connected through Christ. ~AMEN