In April 15, Director Daniel Wong in his letter to the Our Daily Bread’s friends entitled his letter “Remain in Me”. The following was what he said and I quote:
“The Separation Tree, located in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Australia, is a historically significant tree that is 400 years. In 1850, citizens stood under this tree to celebrate the recognition of Victoria as an independent state.
The tree was vandalized twice – once in 2010 and again in 2013. Both times the bark and underlying tissues were stripped off. The second incident caused greater damage which left only a thin strip of bark and tissue connecting the upper reaches of the tree and the lower trunk. The tissues under the bark carry water and nutrients to the canopy and a reverse transfer of sugar to the roots. The very lifeline of the tree was so severely damaged that botanists could not repair it. The tree is now dying and the branches had to be cut off.”
In John 15:5. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus’ instruction is to know His Word (remain in Him) and to be doers of His Word; to love God, love others, and make disciples (bear fruit).
The above short story reminds us of the importance to “remain in Christ”. And to remain in Christ would mean to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus and filled with trust, prayer, obedience and joy. In John 5, the repeated references to fruit bearing, reflect God’s primary purpose in creation and in redemption.
The OT prophets envisioned a time when God’s people would “blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit”. On the other hand, the person who does not remain in Christ, does not have a personal faith in Christ. In Romans 11, the apostle Paul through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gave us the appropriate pictures of the olive tree, the natural branches and the other branches being “grafted” to the olive tree.
We as Gentiles, are much blessed to be part of God’s overall scheme of things in the world that He has created. We are reminded of God’s covenantal promise through Genesis 12:2-3 “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”.
It is said that farmers do not usually graft a wild plant onto a cultivated one, but Paul says that is just what God has done in grafting the wild olive branch of the Gentiles world onto the cultivated olive tree of his people Israel (Romans 11:11-24). He has done this so that all people everywhere, no matter what earthly family they come from, can become a part of His family.
What God has done through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to put us back on the right track with God, deserves our response to “remain in Him”. We are in the month of May and will be almost half way through the year of 2015. Have we remain faithful to God for the resolutions that we have committed? Time for stock-taking for everyone!!
Elder Andrew Lim