“Dry farming” is an old practice gaining new steam in the grape industry. Recent drought conditions in Colorado’s Western Slope produced surprising effects in the grapes: Farmers found their grapes from dryer seasons were sweeter than those from wetter growing seasons. In an outcome that seemed almost biblical, these deeply rooted vines produced better fruit than their regularly irrigated counterparts.
Something similar may be true in our journey of remaining in the love of God. There is a heresy preached both subtly and explicitly in our world today: that the good life exists when we pursue above all our own comfort, ease, prosperity, and happiness. Or even worse—the suggestion that following Jesus will result in us experiencing those things.
The Advent story, of course, refutes these heresies. Jesus abandoned the comfort and prestige of a throne for the filth of a stable. Jesus discomforted Himself, demonstrating what real Christian love is. “Remaining in” the love of God is no more a guarantee of our comfort than it was for Jesus. This does not mean we seek harm for ourselves but rather we steward our power and privilege for the benefit of those with neither, obeying Jesus’ command to “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
In John 15, Jesus compares a life with God to healthy, fruit-producing branches that remain in the grapevine. Jesus invites us to remain in God through our obedience to His command to love one another. As we abide in the vine, we experience “complete” joy (John 15:11).
Grape farmers increasingly concern themselves not with insufficient rain but excess rain. In a world where happiness is promised when we live for ourselves and strive to improve ourselves, Jesus demonstrates real joy exists instead when we die to ourselves (John 15:13) for the sake of our neighbors.
God, thank You for sacrificing Yourself to show us the greatest love the world has ever known. Help us to remain not in our places of comfort but in Your love, the foundation of our calling and service.
by Chris Horst, HOPE chief advancement officer & co-author of Mission Drift and Rooting for Rivals