Jesus refers to himself as “the true vine” and to his followers as “the branches.” In the midst of the descriptive narrative on the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus suddenly draws upon the vine and the branches to describe the spiritual intimacy, union or connection he came to bring into the lives of his followers. Jesus makes it clear that he is out to make them spiritually alive so that they will become spiritually productive. Jesus reveals his goal, his method and means of doing this. These shine a light on the way Jesus works in our lives.
Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches not only calls the followers of Christ to be connected to (i.e., “stay joined to”) him, but makes sure we let God's words get connected to us. He calls us to something beyond simply reading. He doesn’t want us to just meditate on his Word; you might say he wants us to marinate in it! Scripture engagement means getting immersed in God's Word and allowing it to change us. After all, when we open ourselves up to someone, isn’t that exactly what happens? We share more of our thoughts and our ideas, and we more carefully consider the other person's words and opinions. That is intimacy. That is engagement with the Word of God.
Jesus doesn't just tell these leaders that in order to experience intimacy with him they need to let his words dwell richly within them. Jesus says that if they allow his words to become part of their lives, thoughts and actions, then they “will become fruitful disciples” (v. 8).
It's tempting for leaders to live out of insufficient sources of motivation -- from sheer adrenaline or over caffeination to tracking it out on the ministry treadmill or running on auto-pilot. As leaders, we often face the question, “What am I living out of?” In other words, “What is my prime source of motivation and strength as a leader?” Christ wants us to obey him and live for him out of the motivation of relationship, intimacy and love (cf., Luke 10:27). And that intimacy stems from the place we give to God's Word in our lives.
SCRIPTURE ENGAGEMENT BRINGS LEADERS CLOSER TO GOD.