5/20/2018 Confirmation: I Am the Vine

I AM THE VINE

John 15:1-7

 

One of the important truths of success is the realization that we are connected to something greater than ourselves. In fact, if we seek to be happy and fulfilled in life we must understand that our connection to that source of life is essential.

Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are his branches. The vine and the branches’ relationship teaches us something of what our relationship to Christ is like. It teaches us that Christ is first and foremost in our lives. We proclaim that Christ is the source of our hope and strength.  Whenever we forget that Christ is at the heart of everything, we lose track on what is important in our lives and we drift away.

 

This is true in all the important relationships in our lives. It is true in our classrooms, it is true in school yards. It is true in our relationship with family and friends. In short it effects everything.

 

So, I want to ask you an important question; “Where does Christ fit into your lives?” Branches are either grafted to the vine or they are no longer branches which will bear fruit.

 

A pastor shared a story of when he was a young child on the farm in Darke County, Ohio, “Grandpa Miller,” who lived across the road from him, was great for doing several things. He always helped him put rings in the nose of his pet hog, Solomi.

He also was great for raising bees and rendering out the honey. But the thing that was the most fascinating about Grandpa Miller was the way he grafted apple trees. He would cut back the start of a crooked old runt tree and graft to it a fine, producing twig of a pure bread tree which would mature and bring great fruit. It got its source from the strength of that stumpy tree which was cut back to the very source of life.

As people of faith Jesus becomes our source of strength and hope. Jesus said I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly. Being connected to that which is greater than ourselves gives us that sense of living a full life.

The branch just can’t survive without its source of life, the vine. So, too, our life in Christ can’t be alive and survive without God being central in everything.

As Confirmands, you have made one of the most important decisions in your life.  The truth is that you haven’t graduated out of the church, rather you have graduated into its life. When you step out in faith Christ must be central in all that you do. It must be demonstrated in your character. It must be lived out in your morals, and it must be made evident in how you care for and treat others.

In essence, you are to become the eyes, hands, and feet of Christ in our world in order to do good.

We are called to go forth and witness to the love of Christ in our lives, not so much by what we say, but rather what we do. We go forth because we know the joy of being in Christ and we want to share that privilege with others, Why, because we know the One who gives life and we want others to know him, too.

As we serve in the church, having fun at youth group, serving others in need, going on mission trips, we don’t do it for our own gratification, but we do it for God. He is central; He is our vine, and from him we receive our life. When we make decisions about education, where to spend our money, whom to choose as friends, what kind of lifestyle to follow, we do it with God being central to our lives and in our decisions.

If God is our vine and we are his branches, then how we treat the people who live next to us becomes a spiritual issue. How we raise our children, how we relate to our spouse and parents, how we treat our friends as well as our enemies are all critical issues for us who live from the vine.

When God is central, revenge changes to support, hate turns to love, greed moves to sharing,  apathy turns to concern, and me first becomes after you. Not only that — to be a branch of the vine and have God central means: we can relax, we have the source of life; we can forgive, we have been forgiven; we can share, he provides all we need; we can care, he shows the way.

“I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me.” Amen.