Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hey Jude: Remain in Me! - March 5, 2011

Jude 1:21 (New International Reader's Version)
21 The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you eternal life. As you wait for his mercy, remain in God's love.

John 15:1-8 (New Living Translation)
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

As I have said before, the Christian life is not easy. In the 1st Century, this was especially true, with persecution coming from the Jewish elite, the Romans, and pagans. At the same time within the church, many heretical doctrines and teachings were springing up to confuse especially the new believers, into accepting a faith that at times was not authentic. Only by dilligent study, and frequent help of the apostles and true believers, was the church able to grow and strenghten itself in the purity of the true message of Jesus Christ.

In Jude's teaching to those striving to strengthen and protect their walk in the faith, he encouraged Christians to "remain in God's love" while they waited for the return of Christ. I am sure Jude recollected the similar teaching of Jesus, who admonished his followers to "remain" in him. Doing so was the only way for them to grow more deeply in their faith and produce fruit.

He even likened this relationship to growing grapes in the vineyard. As believers we have been grafted into the vine, which is Jesus. By staying close to him, we will be able to produce fruit, the acts of a believer, filled with the Spirit, towards those around them. God as the gardener would provide pruning, the test of personal trial, to strengthen the believer and give them the ability to produce more fruit.

The only way we can withstand the trials and tribulations of this present life is to remain close to Jesus Christ. By remaining in Him we will be able to be the "hands and feet of Jesus" to those around us.

Photo "Grapes: in vino veritas" by Starfish75, 10-16-2005, from stock.xchng

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