Jesus repeatedly used the phrase “remain in me.”  And as if to etch a point upon his hearers’ consciousness, he repeated the same example of the vine and the branches and that thing about bearing much fruit.  Jesus wants to underline what his whole message is about, what his whole coming to this earth is about.  It is about restoring that broken connection to the vine.  It is about remaining in him. It is about relationship. Jesus is telling us this truth in the Gospel lest we forget.  He didn’t come just to heal, to preach or to be a nice bloke.  He came to give us and do what we are not able to give and to do—he gave us a relationship with God and he gave us the grace to abide, to remain in it.  This relationship while Jesus’ initiative, takes two.  It needs our response and active cooperation.  That is why we are to remain in him. We are to bear fruit.  We are to put this relationship above other relationships. We need to be reminded of it because as one writer puts it our “hearts are prone to wander; prone to leave the God we love.”  It doesn’t take a huge digression.  It only takes small steps of complacency and we end up cut off from the relationship with Jesus and worse, guilty of relational idolatry.  Relational idolatry is when our world, our very life is no longer derived from God—when it is all dependent on another’s love or approval or our success or anything that may be good but is not in its proper place.  Relational authority means that one relationship is higher than that relationship which is the Source of life.  In the end, this once life giving relationship becomes stagnant and destructive because it is no longer under our relationship with Jesus.  Is there a relationship in your life that is placed above God?  One sign is the lack of life and freedom in the relationship—when your joy is no longer dependent on who you are in God but in what this or that person feels or thinks of you. Another is that you’re sole preoccupation is about this person—every daydream, every thought and waking hour must be spent with or about this person.  A further warning sign is when the relationship with this person becomes exclusive and closed to others. When there’s possessiveness and unwillingness to share the other. This is the reason why we need to have all our relationships under God’s wisdom. We have hearts prone to wander.  We must be vigilant.  We must remain in Jesus.

Prayer:

Father, prune me.  Prune me of things and relationships that are idolatrous and are no longer life-giving but are now enslaving.  I profess in faith today that my faith wouldn’t be dependent in a person or a relationship but in the fact that you love me. Father, take my heart.  Seal it to your so that I will remain with you always.  Amen.

Challenge:

Take an honest look at your relationships.  Is there a relationship that detracts from your primary relationship with God?  Is there a relationship demanding obedience from you that is not life-giving or freeing?  Ask God to prune it and take steps towards putting that relationship in its proper place.