Scripture: John 15:1-27
Observation: Jesus talks about how to be a fully devoted follower – to remain connected to him, shedding anything that doesn’t reflect his character. He warns them of the cost of following him: rejection from the world around them. He finishes by promising them that the Holy Spirit, the “Advocate,” will come after he leaves.
Application: A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new pair of jeans. I had lots of feelings about them. (Sometimes jean shopping is more emotional than going to therapy. Am I right?!) Initially, I loved them, but then I wore them for a few more minutes and I thought maybe I didn’t love them – they were a little tight around the waist (that was no good) BUT they fit perfectly lengthwise (a rarity when you’re five feet tall). So many feelings.
Here’s what I decided: I’m not deciding right now.
In the classiest of fashions, I awkwardly tucked the tag into the waistband of the jeans and decided to wear them all day before making a final decision. The tag was itchy and totally inconvenient, but I wasn’t ready to make a decision: do I love these jeans or do I hate them?
I think following Jesus is just like indecisive jean shopping sometimes. (I use the term “shopping” very loosely, considering that I had already purchased said jeans and planned on wearing them for about 11 hours before deciding if I wanted to keep them or not. So classy, I know.) When we first put our faith in Jesus, we receive a brand new wardrobe and we love it! We have a new perspective, attitude, and outlook on life. We have a renewed sense of positivity and hope.
But then life happens, and we start thinking we might like our old wardrobe, our old selves, better. We want this relationship with Jesus – but we also want an exit strategy, just in case things don’t pan out the way we thought they would. We want to keep a certain level of control and comfort. We want to keep the tags on our relationship with Jesus – somewhat committed, but not quite ready to go “all in.”
“Yes, I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them will produce much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (v. 5)
Jesus says, “Cut the tags off. Go all in. You can’t have ‘the best of both worlds.’ I am your world now – and trust me, this is a world you want to be a part of. I’m your biggest cheerleader, your constant hope, your provider, your shepherd, your protector, your guide. But this only works if you cut off the tags, throw away the receipts, and go all in.”
Going “all in” isn’t easy. In fact, sometimes it’s downright terrifying. But Jesus promises that it is always worth it:
“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father!” (v. 7-8)
When we let go, we receive so much more – an intimate relationship with our Father in heaven.
Let’s cut off our “tags” today. What are we holding onto that’s holding us back from experiencing the fullness of life in Christ? What poor attitude, what bad habit, what skewed perspective is keeping us from remaining in the One who died for us?
Prayer: God, I admit – I like my “tags,” the comforts of what I know and can control. But, I pray for courage to be pruned, to let go of anything in life that holds me back from your best for me. Help me examine my heart and life today. Amen.