No Substitute

I wanted to share a little more about what we talked about yesterday in our Facebook Live video from John 15. As a refresher, John 15 says: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just 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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Jesus identifies himself as the true vine, or literally in Greek, the genuine article. This is a critical term because it stands in contrast to anything that is counterfeit. There is no end to people, ideologies, concepts, careers, and pursuits that attempt to worm their way into our heart, to vie for our affection, and to become our priority.

The things that may come to mind when you hear that tend to be primarily things that we label as “bad” or “wrong,” but that’s not the limit to which God sees counterfeit vines.

More often than not, the barrier to being sold out for God isn’t the quote-end-quote bad things in our lives, but ostensibly are the good things, things that we could even argue are gifts from God!

Careers, hobbies, friendships, and even families are good things, given by God to build us up, to provide stability, and for our enjoyment. But the danger exists that these gifts can take the place of the giver.

That instead of reaching out to God for nourishment, we reach out to these things. We abide in them instead of abiding in Jesus, the true vine, the genuine article.

Then these good things take the place of what is best and become harmful. In using Jesus’ metaphor, they suck the life out of us instead of nourishing us. They replace something genuine with something counterfeit.

Jesus challenges his followers to commit to following him by abiding in him. This isn’t a passive act of not moving, but a conscious act of reaching out and grabbing on, refusing to let go.

It’s not a choice we make once and for all, but a day-by-day, even a moment by moment decision we make. It’s an obedience that we engage in that creates room in our schedules for the giver and not just the gift.

And it’s in this continued obedience that we discover the joy that for which we have so long been searching.

Jesus says in John 15:11, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

When we prioritize our lives around the life-giving, freeing, joy-filled love of God, we discover that the other things in our lives begin to fall into place. We have higher satisfaction at work, a better relationship with our families, and a more balanced outlook on life.

As you go about your week, I challenge you to abide.

Choose to intentionally reach out and grab hold of Jesus, creating space in your life for him. In this act of obedience, you’ll find the joy beyond measure, and peace that passes all understanding.

I’m believing in you and cheering you on this week! I can’t wait to worship with you on Sunday!

Love you all!

Jordon LeBlanc