suffering branches | John 15.18-27
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also.If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:18-27 | ESV
If this present, sick, wobbly world system doesn’t take a shine to you, know that I was on its ‘un-like’ list way before you. If you were a kindred spirit with this present, sick, wobbly socio-political-economic- religious world system, then it would heap all the laurels of praise on you, wouldn’t it? But since you don’t, since I’ve chosen you and plucked you right out of that messed up world system, this is why it hates your guts.
This shouldn’t be a newsflash for you! Remember my previous post in all caps: LIKE MASTER LIKE SLAVE. If they hunt me down like a fugitive, you better start running too! If they stop and hang on my every word, then you better be prepared for the same audience on your doorstep. And why are they doing all this? Why would they treat you like fugitives to be hunted down? What did you do to deserve such treatment? Simple. They can’t miss the resemblance between us – and they don’t get the family resemblance with Abba at all.
Their hostility would be understandable, warranted, even, if I hadn’t shown up on their doorstep laying it all out for them – no harm, no foul. But I did. And they saw. Now there’s no excuse, no evasion, no shifting of the blame that will follow them to their grave. Another equation: hating me = hating Abba. If I hadn’t produced the long list of unparalleled credentials – all those demonstrations of grace right in their faces – then who could blame them for being snarkily incredulous? But produce it I did, and witness it they did, and hate me and my Abba they did – and do! No, this is no newsflash. It’s as old as ancient Scripture permanently inscribed right there in their Books:
have they hated me.’
But no worries. You won’t be left to face such hostility on your own. The Helper / Encourager / Supporter / Ally / Advocate I’m sending to you from my Abba – the Spirit of Truth proceeding straight from my Abba, that Voice will resound on my behalf, and you’ll merely be joining in the chorus because you’ve been with me from the get-go. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
One last selection from Robert Scott Stiner’s book Lessons from a Venetian Vinedresser:
He squatted down and sat the two buckets gently on the ground beside me. He already knew my question and he offered the answer before I asked. “This should be the last of them,” he said, “I need to water these by hand until the drought has passed.” “But what about all these big vines that have been here for years, don’t we need to water them too?” “Not really. These young plants are the ones who need me right now.” I said, “Aldo, I’m no expert but these older vines are dying, just look at the leaves.” His calm answer floored me. “I’m sure all these plants think as you do.”
Then he paused with one of those pauses when you’re not sure if the person speaking is finished or not. I didn’t say a word, I just waited. Looking around the vineyard he continued…
“I’m sure these plants think they are dying, but they aren’t, they’re only suffering.” Then he looked at me and said, “In order to make the best wine, the vine has to suffer.”
After watering the last of the young vines with the two buckets, we flipped them upside down and sat on them under the shade of a tree. Aldo, the vinedresser, told me this story.
“Years ago we had one of the worst droughts that I can remember. It sent many of the landowners around here into a panic and they felt they had to do something or they would lose their vines, sort of like how you are feeling now. So they went out and purchased or built elaborate irrigation systems for their vineyards and began watering them. It was a short-term solution with long-term consequences. I, on the other hand, did nothing as far as irrigation, even though it was a long and difficult dry spell. I have a long-term plan for my vineyard and I am willing to do what is best for the best wine…
You see, the other landowners didn’t want their crops to suffer, even for one season, so when the drought came they stepped in. The artificial watering allowed for a better crop than mine that year, but without a drought in a vineyard’s life, it didn’t need to struggle to survive…The root systems of the other landowner’s vineyards had to do little to survive and to this day the roots are still very shallow…
Still, that’s not the main reason for my thinking. I have in my vineyard a much stronger and healthier plant because of the drought and my plants have a deeper established foundation…I now have a better grape and in turn I now have a better wine. I have more fruit, better fruit, and a healthier plant because of the drought that I allowed to happen in the life of my vineyard.”
Where in your life are you experiencing resistance and hostility from the world? Where are you experiencing drought? What do you find sustains you through such times?
Abba, lead me into greater trust in you during the dry spells – especially when I’m withering under a hot blast of resisting wind from the world. Let such dry spells only drive my roots deeper into you – and let them result in a richer harvest of joy. Through Christ.