[A slightly edited excerpt from a 2006 sermon preached by Bill Lewellis]
The word, “abide,” occurs eight times in a short passage from the Gospel according to John [John 15:1-8] and another six times in a short passage from the First Letter of John [1John 4:7-21]. No wonder there’s a hymn. “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide … in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
“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 true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. I am the vine, you are the branches.” Abide: remain, stay, live, dwell, last, endure, continue.
“Like knotholes in a fence around a construction site,” it has been said, “metaphors allow the curious to peek into the realm of God.” That, too, is a metaphor.
One cannot speak about God or about relationship with God without using images and metaphors, some helpful, some not.
It has also been said that Christians who can’t cope with metaphors have done their best to spoil the faith for the rest of us.
There’s another metaphor in John 15. It’s about pruning. You may remember an experience of spiritual pruning in your life. You didn’t like it? Don’t miss the point, however, that only branches that bear fruit are pruned … that they may bear more fruit.