my cousin gwen recently blogged about john 15, where Jesus tells His followers that He is the vine, and we are the branches. He says that when we abide in Him, we will bear fruit.
this makes sense. if the branches break away from the vine, they have no root, no depth, and can't produce anything ... they're dead.
so it's the middle of the night, and i'm reading her blog. i worked all night yesterday and got sunburned all day today. so i'm hot and sleepy and not very bright. but her post made me think: how do we "abide in Him"? if i am a branch, how do i make sure i'm abiding in the vine?
so i opened up john 15 and there it was ... the answer to my middle-of-the-night deep thoughts.
Jesus says "abide in my love. 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 [...] this is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you." (john 15:9, 10, 12)
and, as a preacher i heard recently said, loving one another isn't having sweet feelings for one another. it's an active, doing-giving-caring sort of love. the old-school translators captured this feeling when they used the word charity to describe this kind of love. sacrificial doing. thinking about others.
so when we love each other ... charitably ... we're abiding in Him. so our relationships and actions with other people really really do count. kindness and consideration and service all help keep us thriving in spirit.
which is a pretty awesome way for things to be. to be productive sections of the vine, branches don't have to be deep thinkers (clearly ... zzz!), professionally religious, painfully good, intensely smart ...
it is simultaneously much bigger and much simpler than that: we need to love each other like Jesus loved us: actively, sacrificially, and obeying the Father.