Have you heard or possibly said the phrases “I must decrease so that He may increase” or “less of me, more of Him”? These have roots in John 3:30. In this verse, John the Baptist was sharing that his ministry to prepare the way for Jesus was ending as Jesus’ ministry was beginning.
Today, we’ve adopted his words as the attitude and posture we should have in our relationship with Jesus. In all sincerity, we desire that God get all the glory and there be none for ourselves. Subtly we believe that if we were completely out of the way, and God was able to work freely, great things would happen.
Thinking this way, our mantra becomes “all of Him and none of me.” We set about abasing ourselves. Thoughts that we’re human and have needs of our own are suppressed. Tireless effort is spent deflecting attention directed toward us to God. And ultimately we end up passive in our spiritual lives because we sit around waiting for God to do all the work.
However, God’s thinking is a little different. Later in the book of John, Jesus says, “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.” (John 15:4-5 ESV)
Many times what we focus on when reading these verses is that apart from Jesus we can’t do a thing and have no hope for fruit in our lives if it’s up to us alone. But what we miss is the intimate vine and branch relationship which is to picture our relationship with Jesus. Him in us and us in Him.
Both vine and branch are needed for there to be fruit. Just as a branch can’t produce fruit on its own neither can a vine make fruit without a branch. The process requires a vine putting forth its life through unique branches to produce fruit which each branch holds or bears.
The same is true with what the bible calls spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). It requires the God of the universe lowering Himself, joining us to Him, and coursing His life through us and our uniqueness. It also necessitates our involvement, not our getting out of the way. Actually, our attempts to get out of the way are counterproductive and in a sense act like an off switch reducing the flow of life from the vine (God) through the branch (us).
So, God does not work apart from us but through us. We’re needed and He desires to work in concert with us as we trust Him by faith. His flow of life, paired with how He’s uniquely created us, produces spiritual, sweet smelling fruit which is an expression of Him everywhere we go (2 Corinthians 2:14).
If I can encourage you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, since I last wrote to you, we’ve launched a new web site. It has a completely new look and many wonderful new features such as being mobile friendly. The next time you’re online, I hope you’ll take a few minutes and visit us at elmco.org. We’d be honored.
All the best as you seek to embrace the vine and branch relationship!
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director