Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4–5)
How do we remain in vital union with him? By loving him, by obeying him, by surrendering more and more and more of ourselves to him. This is how Jesus lived, by the way. He modeled for us a totally surrendered life, a life lived in union with the Father: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing. ... For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 5:19; 12:49). He came in part to show us how it’s done. All that dynamic life you see coursing through him, he received it as we must do — through ongoing love and dependence upon God.
Now, we must give our lives over to him in order to receive his life. Not just once, but as a regular practice. Of course there is more to this than saying a prayer. It would take another book to describe the ways we make ourselves available to his life. We find those practices that help us receive the life of God. Whether it be prayer, worship, silence, sacrament, or the gift of sunshine, sitting beside a stream, music, adventure — we seek out those things that help us to receive the life of God. You have a personal guide now; ask Jesus what to take up and what to set down, so that you might receive his life.
By the way, this is the bottom-line test of anything claiming to be of Jesus: Does it bring life? If it doesn’t, drop it like a rattlesnake. And you will find that the religious never, ever brings life. Ever. That is its greatest exposure.
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