Of Vines and Chains

“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.” John 15:5

We were created to be in relationship with God. Jesus illustrated this as a vine and branches. The vine relationship is life-sustaining and power giving. When we are not in that relationship we tend to substitute other connections which are not life-sustaining but are restraining killers. They are chains.

This generation doesn’t like to consider sin. Liberals will say there is no sin or that we define for ourselves what is sin. On the right we tend to pick out certain sins, usually the ones that don’t confound us, and make them the worst infractions. Modern man, therefore, tends to consider sins as a list of forbidden activities, established by an arbitrary God to test us. In fact, God defines for us those things which are harmful and not life-sustaining. The things which are chain producers in our lives.

Atheism is now rampant, particularly among our youth. It is fueled by the idea that God is an old-fashioned, out of date, irrelevant idea. It is believed that sin was established thousands of years ago in a culture completely foreign to that in which we now live. No doubt society has changed. The good news is eternally the same; the point of connection does change as society shifts. Jesus brought the Good News to the children of Israel. They knew about Jehovah. They were familiar with sacrifice in atonement for sin. They awaited the Messiah. When Paul left Israel with the gospel, he met a society unfamiliar with the one true God, sacrifice for sin, or the hope for a Messiah. Paul preached the same Good News as Jesus; he just had to find another plug-in point for the non-jew.

Our society is a rapid and dramatic flux. We need to be constantly alert to points of connection with the unchanging truth. We need to reestablish that God seeks to insure our residence and foundation in the vine. We need to learn that any other connection is a chain binding us to death.

Sin is rarely a singular act. It’s a pattern of behavior that chains us to itself. The first glimpse of porn ties us to the next. The first lie calls us to another and eventually a pattern of misrepresentation.  A “slip” of indiscretion is the first step in a life of infidelity. Sex outside  a committed relationship between a man and a woman is a rejection of the divine invitation to participate in the miracle of creation, and the first step toward a life of futile attempts at self-satisfaction. Sin is a perpetually creating chain of slavery.

Sin creates chains other than to itself. Sin chains us to the world instead of the creator. Sin locks our focus on self instead of God. Sin spreads injury and harm which chains us to guilt and responsibility for damages we can never repair. Sin chains us in relationships that can only disappoint and never fully satisfy. Only the Christ vine existence can forever sustain and satisfy. Choose the vine over chains.

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