A Metaphysical Interpretation of John 15:1-11
I. We are a vineyard.
DAILY WORD for December 15, 2013 has as it's scripture reference John 15:9. We will get to that verse later. Here is how the passage opens:
15:1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 15:2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. 15:3Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you. 15:4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 15:5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.
Note the four elements of John 15:1-11:
- The vinegrower,
- the vine,
- the branches
- and the fruit
Here's the point: we are a vineyard. And the vineyard produces fruit. We must recognize that to get fruit, we must tend to the branches. Tending to the branches requires that we abide in the vine. Abiding in the vine means we look to the vinegrower for all things.
II. The fruit.
Fruit is what we really want. We don't buy an apple tree, we buy the fruit of the apple tree; we don't buy the cow, we buy milk, the fruit of the cow. Fruit may be the only thing that truly matters in our live. It may also be the only thing that really transitions from one lifetime to the next.
In today's lesson, the fruit is love. Love is not just a feeling. It governs much of what we do in life. C.S. Lewis wrote about the four words for love in the Greek language. Storge is the love we share with animals and all creatures. Eros is the passion we share with another person. Philia is our love for fellow human beings and which enables us to forgive offenses and live in harmony with others. We are all well aware of these forms of love. But the fourth form of love, Agape, is special. It is the love that flows from within, without reference to any external object. As we will see, Apage love is the source; all storge, eros and philia are but an expression of Agape love.
But fruit is a product of branches ...
III. The branches.
We are not the branches. The branches are the many thought patterns (Twelve Powers) of our life. I believe that each of the twelve powers has a particular fruit: will (interest), understanding (awe), faith (hope), imagination (amusement), zeal (enthusiasm), power (empowerment), love (love), judgment (gratitude), strength (serenity), order (joy), live (pride), elimination (release). The branch produces the fruit.
All gardeners know that the branches of a garden must be tended to by pruning and nourishment. So with the branches of our soul. From the scripture:
15:2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. 15:3Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you.
In Unity, the process of pruning and nourishment is by denials and affirmation. Without these spiritual practices, we find that the many branches of our soul become wild and destructive. But, if pruned by denial and nourished by affirmation, we discover that the many branches of soul flow with the word of God and produce much fruit.
IV. The Vine.
There is, however, one supreme faculty: our Christ nature. It can be difficult to identify it in our consciousness. We sometimes look at an overrun garden, filled with unkept branches, and are unable to identify which of the pile of branches is the original vine. But it is there.
15:4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 15:5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. 15:6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 15:7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
In Unity, the process of abiding in the vine is by practicing the presence of God and keeping the silence. By doing so, we open to the word of God. Can you perceive in the above scripture the process of us abiding in Christ and the word of God abiding in us? The result of abiding in God by the Silence is an awareness of the Christ presence within. That is all that is necessary.
Note that positive prayer (denials and affirmations) and the Silence do different things. Denials and affirmations allow us to tend to the branches, the Silence enables us to abide in the Vine. A recent article in Unity magazine (Jan/Feb 2014 p.36) compares and contrasts two types of spirituality - translational and transformational - and states that sometimes the intentions of each are mutually exclusive. They are only mutually exclusive if one constrains the spiritual journey to ego development (just tending to the branches of the soul). But if one's spiritual journey has opened the soul to the living presence of God then the true purpose of the Silence (abiding in the love of God) becomes apparent.
V. The Vinegrower.
Now, back to the scripture reference in today's The DAILY WORD. It reads:
Do not confuse the Vine with the Vinegrower. God the Father and our divine, inner Christ nature are not one and the same. I AM an expression of God the Father-Mother God through the divine Christ nature from which I have been born. Too often in Unity we have assumed that knowing our "true self" or Christ nature is all that is necessary. My experience has led me to believe that such a spiritual pathway may lead to spiritual growth up to a certain point, but it will fall short in one particular way. Jesus continues:
15:10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 15:11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
We must prune and nourish the branches with denials and affirmations; we must abide in the vine of our Christ nature by keeping the Silence. But to know joy, and to know a joy that is full, asks us to abide in the love of God. If we do this, we become a vineyard that produces much fruit, including love and joy.
Contributed by Mark Hicks on 12-15-2013
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