Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Vine

Remain in me, as I remain also in you. These are the words of Jesus that we're looking at this week, and we saw yesterday that our natural inclination is to jump toward our own abiding and turn this into a lesson about how we are to cling to Jesus. How we, the branches, can do nothing apart from the vine, Jesus. 

And while that's certainly an important lesson that Jesus was most likely trying to get across, it does not capture the fullness of what He says here. There is an entire second clause in Jesus's statement that we seem to just...read right by: as I remain also in you

Yes, we have to remain in Jesus, but Jesus also has to remain in us. 

Now, that gets complicated when we start talking about it because most of us have this understanding of Jesus that He just dwells in us no matter what. That once we ask Him into our heart, He's here. We have been taught, through sermons and flannelgrams and Bible studies that God makes His home inside of us, that we are the Temple of the Living God, that even when we turn our back on Him, He never turns His back on us. The world, and our culture, have taught us that Jesus's love means that He doesn't care what we do, that He has no standards for our living, that He's here for us no matter what.

And so, it's rather easy for us to just skip over the second clause of Jesus's statement because of course Jesus remains in us; He can do no other. 

He remains in us even when we're messed up. He remains in us when we're stuck in the mire. And then, it's just a little short skip away to start believing that He remains in us when we remain in sin. That He remains in us when we relish in our own brokenness. That He remains in us when we willfully remain apart from Him. That there's nothing at all that we have to do to make sure that Jesus remains in us. We have an understanding of God that simply believes that He has to. 

That's what God does. 

Most of us, then, don't worry about whether we're living hospitable lives. Most of us don't worry about whether our lives make welcome for Jesus. Most of us don't think about making up His bed or laying out a towel for Him or setting another plate at the table and welcoming Him to our meal. Most of us don't worry about any of the thousands of little things that we would do to make literally anyone else we were trying to welcome feel comfortable in our space. 

Jesus doesn't need hospitality. He doesn't need welcome. He doesn't need to feel at home here. We don't have to create a space that is mindful of Him and who He is and the kinds of things He appreciates and treasures and loves. That's what we think, so we don't even worry about it. 

But should we? 

Jesus Himself said He must remain in us. Doesn't that mean that we should be cultivating an us in which He can remain? Doesn't that mean we should be working on our hospitality here? At least a little bit? 

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