Written By Windya Peiris, Sri Lanka
Recently, I was able to enjoy a work-free weekend and got to spend time with my boyfriend, Asiri. As a couple, we have our ups and downs, but by God’s grace, we have been able to work through our problems.
Over that weekend, we spent time to read John 15:1–11 on the vine and the branches, which, coincidentally, tied in with a topic we had been talking about for a few days.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:1–11)
We often relate this passage to how we must remain in Jesus in order to be alive and grow in Him. This time, however, I felt that God was using these verses to teach me about my relationship with Asiri.
Before we became a couple, I prayed regularly for God’s guidance on whether I should enter a relationship with Asiri. At the beginning of our relationship, we both made it a point to pray and rely on Him completely. However, our reliance on God faded over time. Asiri and I started making decisions without seeking God’s guidance. We tried to solve problems by our own strength, and we rarely spoke about God. After a while, we became tired and worn out, and often fought and argued with each other.
Thankfully, God reminded us to put Him first in each of our lives. We had made our relationship our idol, but from that point, Asiri and I decided to return to God. We realized that as branches of the vine, we had to keep growing in Jesus, instead of being concerned with worldly things. We had to learn to rely on Him completely, and to trust and be satisfied in Him no matter the circumstances. Only then could we bear fruit; we knew it was impossible to bear fruit by our own efforts.
The experience taught me much about the importance of abiding in Jesus in personal relationships. I was reminded of why many marriages fail. Some couples forget Jesus; God becomes just one of the components in their relationship, instead of being the main focus. They stop studying the Word and praying together and just go to church on Sundays, without living out their faith in their daily lives. Their relationships do not focus on God, and end up drawing them away from the true vine. How can anyone bear fruit that way? Without Jesus, our lives are dead, and as a result, our relationships with one another die as well.
To me, the most beautiful line in John 15:1–11 is the last: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” We can have complete joy only when we listen to Jesus’ words and act on them. There is no other way we can be truly happy—not by material comforts or even human relationships, but only through our relationship with Him.