A newspaper reporter went to interview a successful small business owner. “How did you do it?” he asked. “How did you make all this money?”
“I’m glad you asked,” the businessman said. “It’s a great story. When my wife and I married, we started out with a roof over our heads, some food in our pantry, and five cents between us. I took that nickel, went down to the grocery store, bought an apple, shined it up, and sold it for ten cents. “
“What did you do then?” the reporter asked.
“Well,” he said, “I bought two more apples, shined them up, and sold them for twenty cents.” The reporter thought this would be a great human interest story, so he asked excitedly, “Then what?” The businessman replied, “Then my father-in-law died and left us $20 million”.
The businessman prospered not because of his own ingenuity, but because he was connected. What does it mean to be connected? Well, it means three things. First, it means that we have power. When we say we have connections, it means that we have access to power and wealth. It means that we can get things done. When we are connected to each other through our faith in Jesus Christ, it means that we are strong and can get things done. Our faith gets nourishment and strength from both Christ and our fellow believers. As our faith strengthens, it bears fruit in the form of bringing benefit to ourselves and to the lives of others while doing God’s work in the world.
The second thing that being connected means is that we have a presence. We are not alone. Someone shares our lives. Someone is there for us, just like all of you are here for each other. If we abide with Christ, it means that we have a close, daily relationship with him. Thus, we become a branch of the vine called Christianity-a branch that bears fruit. As such, our wants will be his wants, we will pray according to his words, and he will be pleased with our prayers.
Finally, being connected means is that we will live a productive life. A vine and its fruit point to the giftedness of discipleship while also indicating the substance that will sustain new branches and abundant fruit. The relationship between the vine and the branches, as well as the connection between source and fruit, lies in the love between God and Jesus, and between Jesus and us. In other words, we are to love one another as Christ has loved us
We can only be grafted to Christ by cutting our attachment to our way of life and its creature comforts just like a gardener prunes bushes to make then grow better. The useless branches have to be removed in order to save and strengthen the stronger ones, much like a surgeon cuts off a person’s diseased limbs in order to save his or her life. Only then can we truly be fruitful and multiply.