I have been reading a book which talks about the sacrament of the Present. It says that we are not given the future and we do not exist in the past, the place where God has given us to dwell is in the present. This present moment is a gift from God. It is where God dwells with us. Dwelling on the past often leads to problems of guilt. Worrying about the future leads to anxiety. God calls us to trust him for now.
This concept is delivered throughout the Bible. We are forgiven for our past and guilt is equivalent to unbelief. To be anxious about the future is forbidden by Jesus who calls us to look at the present glory of the lilies and the birds. In John 15 Jesus brings us to where we should dwell. We should abide in the Vine.
The vine was a powerful national symbol in Israel. A golden vine hung in the temple and people would donate precious metals and jewels to adorn it as acts of devotion to God. It is said that one of the clusters of grapes was as big as a human. Jesus may have been near this vine when he spoke. He is replacing the Jewish security in national identity with a security that comes from identifying with him. Our identity comes from our attachment to Jesus. How do we know that we are attached to the Vine? There will be fruit. In some sense there will be spiritual growth which will be observable in this life. Those who seem attached to jesus but who are not will not bear fruit. Those people will be cut off of the vine and thrown on the bonfire. They are not realising their purpose in life.
The sacrament of the Present is the same as abiding in the Vine. The question we should ask is not about the past or the future. The constant question we ask is, ‘Can I abide in Christ right now?’ Can I spend each moment mindfully attached to the Vine? If we desire to do so, God will clean up the distractions that pull us away.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “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. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.
The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 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. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]
The Work of the Holy Spirit
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
- What has made Jesus’ listeners clean?
- Why will the world hate Jesus’ listeners?
- Who enables the disciples to testify?
- Do you abide in the Vine in the present continuous tense? Why? How?
- Does your abiding in the Vine lead to fruit like testifying and suffering?