“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just 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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
Bearing fruit is and how bearing fruit looks like. In today’s text we see this kind of phrase six times already, Jesus is saying that our lives should bear fruit. But what is exactly bearing fruit in our life? When I look at the way we live in terms of bearing fruit, we try to have the appearance of bearing fruit not to truly bear fruit in life you don’t pay attention to the real stuff but just the appearance how people would see me, kind of, area. In other words the desire for the abundant life, the fruitful life. But we do not know what that means or we do not put our effort to bear fruit in life in actual actuality and because of this misunderstanding of what abundant life is our life becomes poorer and poorer even though we strive to live that kind of abundant life. But it goes back backward. Over the years and throughout through our trials. We cannot understand that things from outside will not guarantee us the abundant life, material abundance will not make will not make our life truly abundant. So my friends do not risk your life to gather up more of material abundance. I came to Canada in 1991 so it has been twenty-seven years. By the way that was the year Pastor Dave was born. When we came to Toronto. We used to go to a Korean church in the neighbourhood of Weston and Lawrence so we often went to this Korean restaurant called Wooraeok. If you know this place you’ll remember that the entrance area of that restaurant, they had a showcase kind of thing window and inside they were plastic models of the dishes they had.
I was I was kind of surprised by those models of dishes because back then Korea did not have such showcase anymore. But when I visited Wooraeok and all that I saw that the plastic model of the dishes. If we just pursue the appearance of the abundant life without the content. And if we pursue to gather up the material stuff our life can be one of those model dishes. It may look OK outside but we cannot eat it, nor tasty. By definition fruit must yield to others, giving them joy and satisfaction. But if we continue to pursue only the outcome or appearance of bearing fruit or abundant life, our life will lose its life force and become lifeless; the plastic existence. Let us ask ourselves what is the reason for our economic activities? What is the purpose of our hard work and all that? We may gather up wealth and all that but can we say that such life is the abundant life and bearing much fruit in this life? We think we are very smart. But we are foolish in many ways we have this tremendous obsession that we must build our life by ourselves. We think there is no one out there to help us to build this life as a result. We force ourselves to manufacture, not building up, manufacture our life by using manipulation here and there. We want just a result or appearance of abundant life that people can say, “yes, your life is abundant.” Is that true? The unfortunate side effect of such a life attitude is that we may become successful in our effort.
Yes, we may achieve something even though we try just try to have that appearance of abundant life. But because of that, we may continue to go in the wrong direction, not truly committing ourselves for abundant life my friends the abundant life is only possible when our existence becomes abundant. Not from outside nor by the material stuff when our existence becomes abundance our life becomes abundant bearing much fruit. Whether you are young or old whether you have much less doesn’t matter when your existence become abundant. Whatever you do whoever you meet you will show the abundance in life. That is so true. Then how do we become abundant existence? How do we have this? That’s what today’s text is all about. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” when we have this genuine relationship with Jesus who is the source of our life, our existence becomes abundant. The whole process is not manufacturing nor manipulating but organic and natural. When our existence is filled with this life force, as a result, as a natural result we will be able to bear fruit in life. People around us will enjoy that abundance from us how we say it, how we relate ourselves to others, they will sense abundance from us. This is why Jesus is asking his disciples to abide in Him multiple times in today’s text, as a matter of fact, a word or by appears eight times in today’s relatively short passage but what does exactly by this word abide mean. As I contemplated today’s text for today’s sermon, one phrase caught my eyes. That was verse 4, “Abide in me as I abide in you.”
Even though we may not fully understand the meaning of this word abide what we know is that Jesus took the initiative and he did abide in his disciples and in us already. So the message is about encouragement, promise, and confidence. With this, we will have a better understanding of what Jesus is talking about in today’s text such as in verse 3. “You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.” It is Jesus part of abiding in his disciples. In verse 7, Jesus says, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you.” This too is Jesus encouragement and care for his disciples to hold on to his words that are already in his disciples’ hearts. Jesus is saying “Guys, as I already dwell in you. You must hold on to my promise and my words and my love.” As a matter of fact, today’s passage is part of Jesus’ farewell speech. Jesus knew he would be leaving his disciples soon and as a way to take care of his disciples, Jesus left this passage to encourage his disciples. Jesus loved his disciples so much and we can see she loved them until the end. He’ll be gone. He’ll be gone soon. But don’t worry I am in you. I will be with you all the time. When Jesus said I am the vine and you are the branches. What he meant was we are one, so hold onto my words the life giving words that are ready in you. Do not be afraid. Do not look for anything else but listen carefully to the words that I have already spoken to you.
We now understand that the word abide is not a mechanical kind of process but it is a Jesus commitment for his disciples and his love for them. They are one and no one can separate them from each other. We all desire to live abundant life then become the abundant existence first, choose Jesus and hold on to Jesus words that are already in you. When we have such abiding relationship with Jesus our existence will be filled with life force and we will be able to bear fruit in life. And remember this, may our choosing be genuine and authentic. We cannot choose Jesus as if she’s one of our many other choices. We cannot come to him with a divided heart. Remember what the prophet Jeremiah had to say to the Israelites a long time ago. He said. “For my people have committed two evils they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water and dug out cisterns for themselves cracked cisterns that can can hold no water.” When we abide in Jesus it is our confession that Jesus is the only one. As Jesus showed his commitment and love for us we too show our commitment and love for him. Only then we will be able to become abundant in many ways. That life giving force will make our eyes open. See things differently. Have more appreciation of each other. And our commitment for life in a general sense will become deep and genuine. I think there is abundant life itself.
Abide in Jesus
Reverend In Kee Kim, began the spiritual movement called Inner Voice last year on the first day of June, it’s been already one year and I can see a change transformation in me as well as others because of this Inner Voice Movement. It is like drizzle but we are all soaked into the water of life giving words. The beauty of this spiritual discipline is that when we try to listen to the voice of God from the core of our existence you know what will happen. We will be able to hear our own voice our own voice about this life, about my life personal life, my life purpose calling and when we be able to listen to the more and more; passion is springing up from from within. And we will pursue that direction. Give ourselves all into that, that is abundant life isn’t it. So there is a beauty in that spiritual discipline not only just listening to God’s words but take it down, take it down deeply that you will be able to hear your own authentic voice calling to yourself. I believe this is what abundant life is all about being able to hear your voice in your hearts. And that is the result of listening to God’s words from our hearts. From this everything will change, everything will be different. A spiritual leader Thomas Martin once said this, “You cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are if you do not know your own identity. Who is going to identify you? Others can give you a name or a number that they can never tell you who you really are. That is something you yourself can only discover from within.” Being able to hear your voice from your hearts. It’s the result of abiding in Jesus and holding onto his words and the words will open our eyes heal our souls and mend our relationships.
The words will give us insights or understanding of life and these are the characteristics of the abundant life. That is what verse 7 means. If you’re abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish and it will be done for you. It is not that we will have magical power in in our prayers, no, but our prayers will become like Jesus. Jesus concerned will become our concern. And Jesus dreams for this world become our dream for the world. When that happens our God will not take care of it. As you know the north and south leaders of Korea had a meeting in Panmunjom yesterday or so. When I watched that, I was so glad that now we can have this hope of living in peace together. I believe that’s what our Lord wants to see happening in the Korean Peninsula. When we abide in Jesus and hold on to his words closer to our hearts. Jesus prayer will become our prayers praying for the peace in the world, not only that God will fill our hearts with a new vision for the world and will help us to commit ourselves to the things that are concerning to God’s glory. We had mission dinner as Peter shared last night and I thank God for another great year. Everything was abundant. The food, the performances, the donations and the volunteers. When everyone is abiding in Jesus we will become one connecting to each other through Jesus. That is the secret of community.
When we abide in Jesus more and more have a genuine relationship with Jesus we as a community is forming and we feel that we are one in that sense there is a spiritual secret. It is my blessing to see that happening in our church, I thank God for that. Next year, you got to purchase the tickets sooner. Right. Its sold out in two or three weeks. The food was great this is a spiritual blessing and this is how our God works in us. No other places in the world can we experience such abundance. It is the result of our members who are taking gods words seriously meaning with reverence and joy. What a blessed community we have. The funds we raised from mission dinner will be used majorly for the children in Madagascar. As you may know, a few classrooms were damaged by the cyclone in January this year. We want to restore their hope. We want to share our abundance with them. Thats why we served in each our own way at mission dinner. If we believe in Jesus and if we love Jesus we are called to be his disciples to become the channel of God’s abundance for this world. My dear friends Jesus abides in us with his words to bless our existence. Let us hold on to his words and let the life giving words enrich our existence so that we become the channel of God’s abundance for this broken world. That is the way we are fulfilling our vision. That we as a church stands for the weak and vulnerable. Make God bless you. And may you become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.