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“I am the true vine… Remain in me and I will remain in you.” ~John 15:1-8
Jesus calls himself the true vine. He urges us to stay connected to this true vine, to remain in this true vine, in order to produce fruit, to prove their discipleship to the King, and to bring glory to God. Jesus is the true vine. And that tells me there must be some false vines out there to which we sometimes attach ourselves.
We know what these false vines are. We recognize them as counterfeit and temporary. But the people who are connected to these vines all look pretty happy. They all look like they’re doing OK. So off we go…
Chasing after the false vines of money and power. Connecting to the false vines of pleasure and fame. Seeking our identity in the false vines of career and the athletic achievements of our children. Obsessed over and addicted to the false vines of entertainment and technology. Drawing energy and life’s meaning and purpose from the false vines of nationalism, patriotism, and worldly politics.
Like Jeremiah’s wild donkeys in heat, we can’t be restrained. We run after these false gods and connect ourselves to these false vines with barely a second thought. Like the people in Jeremiah, we proclaim, “I love foreign gods, and I must go after them!”
We need to all be reminded that this world’s politics is a false vine. The politics of this world are producing the rotten, stinking fruit of polarization and alienation, threat and insult, fear and hate. This nation’s politics are to the point, and have been for years, that if you disagree with me on just one issue, you are the enemy and you are thoroughly evil from head to toe. If you disagree with me on just one point, I label you and the conversation stops. I don’t listen to you anymore. All hope for community with you is abandoned. I label you and put you in your proper category and I insult you. You and your party and your candidate and your ideas and your intelligence and your character and your mama and your daddy and your greasy granny!
There is nothing remotely Christ-like about any of that.
As disciples of the Messiah, we must quickly come to the realization that in this country there is not one righteous party and one evil party, there is not one right set of candidates and one wrong set of candidates. What we have is one massive corrupt and worldly system that is powered and motivated by the principles of this world and that the Kingdom of God is working right now to overthrow and conquer! It’s a sinful and worldly system that the holy Son of God came to oppose and destroy!
As baptized disciples of Jesus, we are citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God. And God’s Church is very political. We are very committed to political thought and political actions. But our politics are not of this world. We belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world. We pledge allegiance to a King who is not of this world. So we do not do things the way the world does things. We do things the way Jesus does things.
This world will not be saved by power and force. You and your family are not going to be protected by your petitions and votes. Jesus has come to save and protect by sacrifice and submission, by selfless love and service. And I don’t hear any of that in today’s political ads. I don’t see any of that on anybody’s platform.
Our politics are entirely different because our King is unlike any other. Jesus is the true vine. He is not planted in the dirt of this world and thus destined to blow away. He is the true vine who is rooted in the eternity of God. Everything else we might attach ourselves to is a fake. It’s false. And it will suck the life and energy and meaning and purpose right out of you. Jesus is the only source for the life and energy, meaning and purpose we need to live as holy children of God. There are no other sources. And there is no other way.