5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.
1 John 4:16-21
16 We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 17 This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars. After all, those who don’t love their brothers or sisters whom they have seen can hardly love God whom they have not seen! 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.
“But the thing that makes Woody special, is he’ll never give up on you…ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.” *
In the end, Woody’s security didn’t come from trying to compete with Buzz. It came from Andy’s love for him. Israelites often saw themselves as a vineyard God tended (cf. Psalm 80:8-18, Isaiah 5:1-7). But when Jesus used that image he made it more challenging. The value of the vineyard, of any individual vine, came only as people stayed united to him like branches to a vine. The image led to a key object lesson: no branch grows and bears fruit unless it stays securely joined to the vine.
- When Jesus said, “Without me, you can’t do anything,” he clearly did not mean any kind of human activity. Without him, we can exercise, prepare gourmet meals, earn and spend money and do all kinds of other things. But we must connect with him for anything we do to have eternal value. What are some ways that you “remain” in Jesus? What choices and actions have other Christians you know made to help them remain “connected to the vine”? Prayerfully choose one new way you will seek to deepen your “remaining” in Jesus.
- Only God can love us with a truly perfect love. Why would John say that “perfect love drives out fear”? 1 John 4:20 got blunt: “Those who say, ‘I love God’ and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.” Do you agree that hating human beings rules out genuine love for God? Why would that be the case? Can you think of practical ways you can let God’s perfect love move you in the direction of acting in love toward “others,” even if you think they deserve fear and distrust rather than love?
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me with a love so perfect that it will truly last forever. Teach me how to open my heart and mind to your love’s transforming power. Amen.
* Andy describing his favorite toy from https://www.christianquotes.info/movie-quotes/16-fun-quotes-toy-story-movies-share-friends/
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Ginger is a graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology. She is the creator of CompassionFix.com and co-hosts the What Matters? podcast. She serves as a Care Minister at Resurrection Downtown. She loves writing, teaching spiritual classes, conversations over coffee, and traveling with her husband and two children.