“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.” Verse 5 (NIV)
Growing up in Niagara I was exposed to working the grape vineyards from a pretty early age. I remember most the day that my dad took me to “sucker” the grape vines. It was in the spring and we walked up and down the rows of grape vines and to my astonishment we chopped off every green shoot that was growing up from the base of the vine. In my mind this new growth was green and fresh while the vines that had been tied to the wires and kept in rows seemed old and brittle.
I asked my dad at the end of the evening, “Why did we cut off all the good growth and leave all the old growth?” Dad explained, “The new growth that we cut off are called suckers. They are new and fresh. They look so much better than the old vines, but it is really just a trick. The new growth will take all the food meant for the vine. Then when it is time for the grapes to begin to grow there will be no food left and the grapes will be small and of a very poor quality.”
That lesson did not have much spiritual impact on me until I studied this passage in Bible College. My dad’s words came racing back to me and I saw the beauty of what I was taught. There are so many things in life that look good, even beneficial, but if they distract me from staying strongly connected to Jesus, they are just suckers. There are even spiritual distractions in our lives these days. Even if they promise spiritual benefits if they distract me from my connection to Jesus, they are suckers.
If we want to be about God’s business, if we want to be producing fruit to our greatest potential then we must focus on Jesus, we must know his word and the prompting of his Spirit. Apart from him you can do NOTHING!
Lord Jesus, keep me strongly connected to you and your Holy Spirit. Make me free to bear much fruit. Amen.