My son and daughter-in-law took me to lunch at a winery outside of Austin, Texas for my birthday. As we were waiting for our reservation, we wandered up and down the rows of harvested vines, enjoying the sunshine, and marveling at God’s handiwork. We also marveled at whatever it was that was coiled around the support wires.
I have to confess, it took us a few minutes to figure out what we were looking at. Coming from Illinois, we’re familiar with barbed wire, but this wasn’t barbed and it wasn’t wire. It was coiled and it was hard, woody even. We finally realized it was the hardened leftover tendrils that had connected the grapevine to the support wires.
These tendrils were really interesting. Some of the tendrils were multiple coils a couple of inches long, and some were just one or two coils. The tendrils were so hard you couldn’t pull them off the wire, but clearly, they were at one time a part of the vine.
When the tendril was attached to the vine it was flexible, strong, and green. It had use, purpose and worth: it attached itself to the wire supports, fence posts, or whatever else was around, pulled the branches toward the sun, and lifted them up so that the grapes could hang down. It was a necessary part of the grape vine.
However, once the harvest was complete, the tendrils were left behind, separated from the branches and from the vine; useless, worthless and purposeless.
As Christians, attached to Christ, we have use, worth and purpose, but apart from Christ, we can do nothing.
John 15:5 “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.
We think we can do things apart from Christ. We have ability, education, great insights, personality, creativity, and generosity. We understand things and teach others, we might even talk to people about Jesus; but our work has no eternal value.
When it is tried by fire, it will burn up, and we will stand before Christ as one escaping the flames with only the ashes of our life’s work to place at his feet.
However, if we remain in Christ, and he in us – not next to him, not drawing our strength from him – but allowing him to live out his life through us, we will continue to bear spiritual fruit that will last for all eternity. Apart from him, we become a hardened, useless, purposeless, worthless piece of dry tendril reminding ourselves of who we used to be, and what we used to do.
Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
The tendrils were interesting, but that is all. Apart from Christ, would we even be that?