Yesterday the Apostle Paul reminded us of the joy that he experienced despite the pain and suffering – telling the church at Colossae how much he loved seeing their changed hearts and lives because of their choice to follow Messiah, Jesus.
And what was the difference?
“…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
Today, let’s back up and listen to the words of Jesus as He spoke to His disciples – what brings Him joy:
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.(John 15:1-11, English Standard Version)
Jesus did not choose an inanimate thing like a contract or a law or a building to illustrate the relationship between people and God. Instead, He chose a living connection, an example of a vine and its branches to help us understand the relationship He desires with us.
Yes, the promise of joy is conditional – we can’t expect to separate ourselves from the source of our joy, just as a branch cut off from its vine will quickly wither and die. This abiding is not to limit our freedom, but to protect, provide for our life and help us to grow, even “bearing fruit” in our calling and life purpose.
Jesus’ example of obedience to His Father, even through hard times and things we don’t want to do, give us courage and hope, not for a way around the problems of life, but a partnership for the way through.
We don’t have to go through this life alone – Jesus invites us to connect to Him, and He will give us what we need to weather the storms of life and thrive, helping others in the process.
And when we are connected to Him, He delights in us, and we experience His good pleasure (aka, joy).
Learning to Joyfully Abide in Him,