John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Who are you? There are times in our lives when we are meeting lots of new people, and our answer is well rehearsed – and there are times, when we really have to think what to say, either because it has been a long tome since we were asked, or because things are changing.
Who are you? Where do you begin? We could begin with where we came from, that tells a lot about who we are, for these are the things that shaped us, and we say: "This is what I have been". We could also begin by talking about where we are going, for this is what will shape our future: and we say "This is what I am becoming". Or we could begin with right now, this is who I am, right now, and we say: "This is who I am".
Our problem is that it is a lot easier to talk about the past, or to imagine the future, than it is to see what is right now. Because, right now, the first thing that comes to mind are problems. We aren’t what we were (which may be good or bad) – and we aren’t yet at what we will become. So who can tell us about today? God! Thank God!
One of the central theme’s in the Gospel of John is an emphasis on the present. For example, the familiar, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that we should not perish, but HAVE everlasting life. Its not that we had everlasting life once, nor is it that we might have everlasting life someday, but we have it NOW. Apart from God, we would have never known. We are not waiting for someday, for it is here now.
So also our text, its not that we were branches, or will be branches someday – but we are branches NOW. There are all sorts of things when argue that we can’t be the branches now – for God is perfect, and we, while we might be better than some, we know our faults – we have all seen things come out of us, that in no way could originate in Christ – for that is the nature of sin, and one of its chief things of that guilt is it causes us to doubt God’s Word.
This is why Jesus tells us John 15:3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. This is also present tense – forgiveness makes us clean, right now!
We are the branches, we bear fruit, we are clean – all this, is the grace of God at work in our lives. It does not depend on us, because it is God at work. This is who we are, this is what it is to be a Christian.