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. - John 15:4 NIV
Our English Pointer, Bella, loves it when she finds branches in the yard -- usually right after a storm. She's a pretty good-sized dog, so you'll sometimes see her carrying what looks like a smallish tree. It's a great source of entertainment for her, and she gets as much pleasure from it as toys we've bought her. However, she will leave it once bored and find joy, like digging holes in the yard. At that moment, seeing the branch lying on the ground, its lifelessness becomes apparent. It most likely had been dead for a long time, not producing leaves for years, just hanging on.
For a branch to continue to leaf, it needs to remain on a healthy tree. Once separated from the tree, it is finished. This is because the tree contains the root system; it is the source of nutrition for the branches.
To stay healthy in Christ, we must remain in him. There is more to this than just saying we are Christians; we must be doing; praying, studying, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and demonstrating justice; loving our neighbors. These are our leaves, our proof of life. Otherwise, we become like the dead branch. We remain connected to the tree, but we are not alive.
God, we give thanks for the promise in remaining. Please help us stay connected to you and to be your live branches. Please help us as we listen to the Holy Spirit in our doing, and may our actions be fruitful and glorify you. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.