Most of us are aware of how downturns in the economy have affected people’s mental and emotional health. Crashes in the stock market have created crashes in people’s psyche and overall sense of security. We have witnessed how the fallout of one’s bank account can lead to a fallout in one’s overall well-being. Those who are able to invest the stock market outsource much of their revenue and their future to a mercurial and ever-fluctuating financial machine. This outsourcing can be very risky, particularly if we tether our joy to the fruits or the failures of the market.
Jesus informs us in John 15 that He is “the Vine,” and we “are the branches.” In verse 1 of this chapter He reminds all of us that He is the “true” Vine. This adjective is so important. If He is the “true” Vine then there must also be “false” vines. Jesus assures us that if we as branches remain tethered to Him that we “will bear much fruit” (verse 5), and that our “joy will be complete” (verse 11). These are surefire promises from Him. But we must consider a few important things:
If we choose to tether our lives, our joy, and our well-being to other vines then those things are sure to fail us at some point. At the end of verse 5 Jesus assures us that if we do not abide in Him that we “can do nothing.” The fruit of our labors, apart from Christ, will be short-lived and of low or no impact. Furthermore, if we outsource our joy to these false vines that same amount of joy will be snatched and gone once those vines fail us – and they certainly will. Much like a stock market crash can devastate an investor financially, a false vine can devastate us regarding our joy and well-being if we have entrusted those things to it.
False vines aren’t necessarily bad things. Our families, our work, and our health are just some of those false vines that can sap and steal our joy. The reality is that we have control over none of those things or the fruit that they produce. If those things are taken from us or if they fail to produce what we hoped they would do, then we are substantially devastated.
This is why we must always seek to abide in Christ as the One True Vine. He is permanent. He and His love and security can not be taken from us. He controls the fruit in our lives, and the fruit that He produces will abide. Abiding in Christ is the only way to protect our joy, because all other “vines” will eventually take with them the joy that we seek to place in them.
As we move closer to the end of another year, please pray that our faculty and students will abide in Christ. There is a temptation to outsource joy to grades, athletic performances, affirmation, scholarship offers and relationships. While all of these things are good and important they cannot provide the lasting joy that Jesus gives. As move closer to Holy Week, may all of us take time to press into Christ and to abide in Him for a stronger and permanent joy.