I am a branch.
This simple concept has been the most influential spiritual principle in my life for the past 10 years. In 1998 I was introduced to a book by Andrew Murray called "Abide in Christ", which contains 31 reflections on the parable of the vine from John 15. I have read this book almost once a year, and I continue to be refreshed, encouraged, and convicted by the freedom that comes from re-learning my position as one dependent on the life of God given through Christ.
The premise of Jesus’ parable is very simple – just as a branch is dependent on the vine for life and sustenance, so all people are designed to be dependent on God as our life in all things. And yet, like most of Jesus’ teachings, the simple becomes very profound if you consider its deeper implications.
It’s not just that I need Jesus for forgiveness of my sins. It’s not just that I need Jesus to help me when things get too hard. It’s not just that I need Jesus to understand hard passages in the Bible or to love prickly people. I need the life of God in every moment, and the degree to which I remember that truth and rely on Him is tied to the degree that I experience the power, joy, and peace that come with His presence.
It would be easy for someone like me to make this principle into a law, measuring constantly how well I am abiding or have been abiding, chastising myself for failing to abide. But that quickly becomes trusting myself or my ability to abide instead of trusting Christ. The truth is, I abide not because I am faithful or because I read a book or pray a prayer. I abide in Christ because of His work on my behalf, His life, death, and resurrection. Whether I am aware of my position in Him at all times is irrelevant to whether or not I am secure in Christ. But when I do pause to remember, in any moment, that I am in Christ and that He has given Himself completely to me, there is an awareness of grace in every moment and of a life that is deeper than my feelings or circumstances, and that brings great freedom.