John 15:4 (NLT)
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
Are you a disciple of Christ? The word implies much more than belief in Christ, although that is a vital element. Discipleship means committing to a path that leads to one specific goal: to become like Christ. As disciples, we ask for the challenge and discomfort of having our parts rearranged, or even amputated, until the form of our life and the fiber of our character come to resemble the Christ we love.
The Scripture quote is taken from Jesus’ familiar discourse about God’s vineyard, where God the Father is the gardener, Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches (15:1-8). Jesus uses the metaphor to teach his disciples about their calling and lays out discipleship in five basic elements.
Five Elements of Discipleship
- The Christ. “I am the true grapevine” (v. 1). – Discipleship begins with the master whom the disciples will follow. The Father established Jesus to be our master, our means for salvation, and our model for righteous living.
- Belief. “You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you” (v. 3). – In the moment when we come to faith, we are changed. The Holy Spirit takes residence within us, and we are stirred to love and follow Jesus.
- Dependence. “I am the vine, and you are the branches” (v. 5). – As disciples of Christ, we no longer draw wisdom and purpose from the world but from the true grapevine. Jesus Christ becomes the bread and wine we need for healthy living and spiritual vitality.
- Obedience. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted” (v. 7). – As we draw from the true vine, God’s desires become ours. Surrendering our goals and energies to God’s good purpose becomes our joy and privilege.
- Fruit. “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (v. 8). – Our goal is to become like Christ, but God’s goal is to bring all creation back into right relationship with its Creator. Jesus was sent for that purpose, and we are grafted into the Christ-vine for that same purpose—to bear fruit that will turn hearts toward God.
FATHER, I want to be a true and faithful disciple of Christ. Help me to welcome your discipline and instruction, especially when it is painful. Make me worthy, I pray, to bear the name and the image of Jesus. Help me to believe, to depend, and to obey so that I may produce your good fruit in my relationships and shine for your glory.
Psalm 119:33-36; John 8:31-32
What practices help you to “remain in Christ”?