Today’s Scripture: John 15:5-8
“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.
Have you ever been somewhere, like a party or a meeting or even eating dinner with your family – and not really been there? Your body is there but your thoughts, your attention, your spirit is somewhere else. You are “there” but you are not really there. The phones in our pockets make this phenomenon even more real. Once we pull those out, we do not remain in the room even though we are in the room.
Jesus is talking to his disciples about staying in the room – only the room is himself. The word that is translated in our text as “remain” could also be rendered as “abide” or “plant roots” or “stay connected”. It’s a word that has a deeper meaning that just physical proximity. It’s a deep connection.
But we have a tendency to do with Jesus what we do in other areas of our lives – be present but not be present. We go through the motions. We attend worship or Bible Study or both! We might read a devotional in the morning or say a prayer at mealtime. But do we “remain” in Jesus throughout the day – throughout our lives?
When we are present to the people in our lives, and not on our phones, we are connected to them, we learn from them, we honor them. When we “leave” instead of “remain” we unplug from all the good that being with them brings. The same thing happens with Jesus. When we unplug, he says, we can do nothing. But when we remain, we can ask for anything. When we remain, we produce much fruit.
We live in a very distracted age. This week in particular is gobbling up our attention with election news. So, we have to find ways to come back into the room and be with Jesus – to come back into the room and remain.
God we confess that we sometimes are not very present with those around us and not very present with Christ. Help us to learn to remain.