on this fourth of july, i find myself thinking about the word “independence”. so often, this word is accompanied by the little preposition, from. we wanted independence from great britain. we want independence from oppression. we want independence from government. we want independence from our parents. we want freedom from something else that we view as holding us back or fettering us.
but what does this idea of independence look like in my life? what should a Christian life be? should i really long for independence? rather, should i long to be independence on something? john 15: 1-11 says:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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. already you are clean because of the word that i have spoken to you. 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. 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. 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. if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. as the Father has loved me, so have i loved you. abide in my love. 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. these things i have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
abide in me. apart from me, you can do nothing. it would seem as though we are not to wander through this life trying to do it on our own. trying to be independent. trying to be our own island. man was created to abide. man was created to be in fellowship with the Father. to be constantly fed my the wellspring of life. we cannot cut ourselves off and expect to flourish. we need to be connected to the vine in order to be fruitful. we need the holy sap to infuse our lives with His grace and sustenance that we might have life. we wither away when we are away from the vine.
furthermore, we are created to be a part of a large vine. we aren’t just lone plants in individual pots. we are part of an interwoven family of shoots and branches and leaves that are dynamic. each part growing and feeding. God provides the nourishment and the pruning. our job is to stay tapped in. to continue to bear fruit. to become bigger and stronger. this is why we need other people to speak into our lives. this is why we need community. this is why we need companions. this is why we need the local church. we are called to be a part of something bigger than just our little branch. the vine should be robust and conspicuous so that it is clear that it is a healthy vine. the healthy vine brings glory to the Creator.
i need to be abiding. i need to be independence on Christ. only when i abide in Him and depend on Him for life will my joy be full. and that is what i want. fullness of joy. that is true freedom.