John 15:3-4

[see also the DoNotDepart page on these verses]

3. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

That “that” feels superfluous, and I would never use it. In early learning I would forget it. But having it there slows me down, and makes me think about what I’m saying, think about what I’m thinking instead of just churning it out.

Each step towards Jesus is a fresh start. I don’t have to think of all the ways I’ve gone wrong in my life (I used to do that: my life was a ribbon encrusted and interlaced with shit. Each piece of shit something I’d done wrong. I would start at the far end of the ribbon, considering each piece in turn, hoping to imagine the ribbon clean). I am clean and this step I am making now is all that matters. Jesus has arrived and brought me this fresh start.

Everything about Jesus as the word and the word of God and the word made flesh, I love (quel surprise).

4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

“Abide” is an old-fashioned word, like “dwell”. I think these words are old-fashioned partly because we don’t do it any more. I like the idea: it sounds intimate and un-alienated — even more intimate by using “in” instead of “with”.

We can’t bear fruit without Jesus — without being “really Christians”, and signing up to a bunch of rules from some church … that might be one way of interpreting this.

Paul said (I think, somewhere) that the Gentiles were a law unto themselves, and had the law in their hearts even though they didn’t follow the written law. I think someone could love God and follow Jesus without realising it. When I was younger several people told me that’s what I was doing — which exasperated me of course.

The new thing that excites me now is the idea that being Good is being human. Following Jesus is not denying myself, it’s being truer to myself, to what I really am.

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