I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. 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. (Jn 15: 1-2, 4)
Our world tells us that obedience is a submission to power that takes away freedom and attempts to control. The world says that obedience does not have a person’s best interests in mind. The world encourages us to be independent, goal driven, and focused on individual success: don’t let others tell you how to live, it says. Often, however, these motivations of individuality, when acted upon, leave one directionless and confused. Obedience is actually an expression of love by a unity of our will with God’s will. Obedience is not just an imposition of power, but a freedom to choose love. The virtue of obedience directs us in living a fruitful life united with Christ.
Christ as the vine supports a person’s union with God. The vine supports the branches in their growth so that they can be fruitful. Christ helps direct us in our actions and decisions so that we remain in union with God. As long as we stay united with Christ, attached to the vine, we will remain in union with God. But if we were to break that unity through disobedience, we would live a life of unhappiness and separation from God, as happened with the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Because of the Fall, we exist today in a fallen nature. Our nature needs the redeeming vine of Christ to give us unity with God again. Christ was obedient to his Father in his death on the cross, and this act of obedience on the cross restored the unity between God and the human race. The unity that Adam and Eve’s disobedience destroyed was restored by Christ’s obedience. We imitate the obedience of Christ by obeying the commands of God: If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love (Jn 15:10). The unity caused and supported by obedience permits one to love Christ and God in a more intimate and permanent way. We are called to obedience to remain in union with God.
The unity we have with Christ ultimately leads to a life of happiness. Happiness with God is our intended final end. If we persevere in obedience out of love for the Father, he will reward us with the fruit of obedience: eternal life united with him.
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