Remain and Abide
Remain 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. “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. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Picture a person in your life whom you desire to know God’s love more. What actions have you done to show His love to them? Did you listen? Were you present in a time of struggle? What can you do? Think about this person as you read the rest of the devotional.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a BA in Sociology and a minor in Criminal Justice. Before moving to Colorado, I was a case manager for teenage mothers in Sioux Falls, SD. Talk about a crazy job and learning experience. I was working with a very unfamiliar population. I have never been arrested, a foster child, given birth, dealt with addiction or been a mother. Over time, the Lord showed me that the girls and I had many commonalities. Many had lost a mother or father (me too), a family member was in prison, or juvenile jail (me too), and most were lost in a journey of darkness (me too). I never had been a mother but was like a mother to many youths. This job was not easy by any means, but it gave me life in a rejuvenating way.
The girls would swear at us, and our anger level was high at times. This is normal because when stress or darkness happens in one’s life, he or she usually will take it out on those closest to them. These girls had lots of pain and loss; almost all of them had no baby’s father in their life by the time the baby came. Many were dealing with a loss of childhood, loss of a relationship, and sometimes loss of family. We became their family! I never faulted them for being frustrated or angry but needed them to process all that was happening to them. My heart would break for them many times as I went home. Yet I continued to come back for them and to be present for them.
It was a hard job but so life-giving for me. I asked the Lord to use me to be a reliable, loving presence and firm foundation. I realized very early on that my words had little impact, but my actions had a massive impact on their lives. My simple presence and reliability were what they desired and needed in their lives. Every morning I would Pray this prayer to the Lord:
“Let the girls see you in me today!”
This is what John 15 is all about! We are called to remain in God’s Love, allowing us to Love others!
Love is seen more than heard. People often see you for what you do, not what you say. If you are a true disciple, people see your empathy, love, and compassion for them before they know you are a beloved of your God! We are capable of loving others because of the love we have from our God through His son! Jesus is the sacrificial love He gave us on the cross. This bridge is the vine that we are connected to as the branches. Jesus sets the stage with the imagery of the gardener, vine, and branches in John 15.
Specifically, in our focus passage, the keyword repeated seven times is the word remain. It is also repeated three more times in the verses that follow. Remain in Greek is the word μένω (meino) which can be translated as to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy) -- abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, and remain. Remaining means stillness to me and taking time to be present, yet the word abide instills an action. To abide means to live out where you remain.
Here, Jesus sets the stage for a mutual indwelling of Jesus and those who will remain in him (abide in him). Just like the branch needs to be connected to the vine to grow fruit, we must remain in Jesus our vine to bear fruit as a branch. We must remain in Him, and He must stay connected with us!
Meino occurs ten times in Jn.15:1-11. This analogy is telling us for a branch to bear fruit, it must share the life of the vine, and for believers to bear fruit, we must abide in (remain in) Jesus! Branches are unable to have life on their own. Branches are lifeless without the vine giving them nourishment, nutrients, and strength.
This was my prayer every day going to work at the teenage mother’s home. “Lord, let them see you in me,” which could be written as “as I remain in you allow me to abide by you to show your love.” We are lifeless without remaining in Jesus to be able to abide in the Lord.
Now, let’s go back to the person you pictured. What can you do to remain in Christ to show His love to that person? Do you need to work on being present with Christ in order to be present with others? Do you need to simply spend time with them? How is that person seeing the Lord in you?
Lord, may others see you in me today! Amen.
Rev. Lauren Parliament
Minister to Future Leaders and Discipleship
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains