The Vine and the Branches

With the celebration of Independence Day last weekend, I have been thinking about independence and freedom in light of the Christian story. Here in America at least, we uphold independence as a chief virtue, as we try to set up democracies in countries so that they may be independent and in order that people may have freedom and individual rights. These may be good things but I would like to suggest that independence may have been the starting point of the broken world we now inhabit. The act of Adam and Eve eating the fruit in the garden was an act of independence, one in which they chose their own freedom of choice over the commandment of God. You could say they acted independently of God. They chose their own way over the way of God. Independence is the reason we find ourselves immersed in sin.

In biology, specifically when talking about different environmental habitats such as marshland or forests, words such as codependence and coevolution are usually thrown into the discussion. Put very simply, this means that different organisms depend on other organisms for their very existence and their evolution to continue to survive in years to come. They are only able to survive as long as another is able to survive. Take the food chain for example. When a link of the chain becomes missing, the whole food chain is broken down and everything in that food chain is affected by it.

In the Bible, we hear Jesus say that he is the true vine and we are the branches and there is no life aside from the vine. We also see imagery of being grafted into the tree of life, God. We are dependent on God for our livelihood. We are dependent on the new life found in Him. Life is dependency on another. And independent life is one of separation from others, separation from God. We must learn to be dependent on God, on other humans, and on his creation. Because in reality we are. However, we often lose sight and convince ourselves that independence is the highest goal.

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