"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vines and Branches

By reason of circumstance, I find myself pondering out the John 15 narrative of Jesus as the true vine and us as the branches. I guess it is what my friend Paul referrs to as a blinding flash of the obvious, but there's more to this passage than the idea of being attached onto Jesus. There's a profound statement here about community, who we are, not just who I am.

I think we like to imagine that we are the vine, and Jesus is the soil. We're rooted in Christ, we say. We take our nourishment directly from him. Me and my Jesus. We're tight, me and him, we like to believe.

But when we do that, we promote ourselves into his place. I am the vine, not Jesus.

But if Jesus is the true vine, we are still tight with him, still taking our nourishment from him. But the image is less individual. We are not one by one rooted in the soil, but we are all part of one whole, of which he is the center, the support, the source. All nourishment still comes through and from him, but we are not individually rooted, we are grafted in, one by one still, but all grafted into the same source. One source, one life, one vine.

If Jesus is the true vine and we are the branches, we also look like him. When we promote ourselves to vine and say we're rooted in Jesus (as the soil), we excuse ourselves from bearing resemblance to the source. But the vine has the same texture, only greater, bears the same leaves, only more. The vine bears the same nature as the branches, but reaches farther, nourishes the branches, supports the whole structure.

There is no idividualism in branch-ness as there is in vine-ness. Jesus can, as the vine, exist on his own, without us. But as the branch, we have no life in our selves. As the branch cannot bear fruit apart from the vine... you know the passage. I suppose there are other vines that exist apart from the true vine, but what sort of fruit do the bear? Only the true vine endures.

I don't really know why I'm blogging this, except as a way of thinking out loud. I guess the revelation that modern individualism does promote us to being our own vine, and that if Jesus must be the vine then such individualism is heresy. I guess I'm just trying, yet again, to get into the ancient mind.

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