“I’d rather be a branch on the Vine”

We have become fans of a BBC series currently airing on PBS entitled “Poldark”. Set in the late 18th century, it is the story of a gentleman who has returned home to England from fighting in the American Revolution to find his world in ruins. An unlikely relationship develops between he and a young servant woman by the name of Demelza, whom he marries to the amazement and disdain of those in proper English society. While attending her first gathering with the “gentle folk”, she is called upon to demonstrate any musical talent that she may have. Demelza causes them to give pause as she begins to pensively sing a melodic lyric that reveals the transparency of her heart and her lack of guile in contrast to the antipathy that many in the gathering have shown her:

I’d a pluck a fair rose for my love

I’d a pluck a red rose blowin’

Love’s in my heart, i’m tryin’ so to prove

What your heart’s knowin’

I’d a pluck a finger on a thorn

I’d a pluck a finger bleedin’

Red is my heart, wounded and forlorn

And your heart needin’

I’d a hold a finger to my tongue

I’d a hold a finger waitin’

My heart is sore, until it joins in song

With your heart matin’

It is a song of unrequited love that has been sacrificially extended but not returned. And though the story is a work of fiction, it displays a reality that is sadly true. And not just in the world — but even more sadly, in the church of our LORD.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of our LORD’s unconditional love:

Now I will sing for the one I lovea song about His vineyard:My beloved had a vineyardon a rich and fertile hill.He plowed the land, cleared its stones,and planted it with the best vines.In the middle He built a watchtowerand carved a winepress in the nearby rocks.Then He waited for a harvest of sweet grapes,but the grapes that grew were bitter. Isaiah 5:1–2 NLT

Then we read what must be the cry of His heart as He looks upon His people — His bride — His church:

What more could I have done for My vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did My vineyard give Me bitter grapes?

Isaiah 5:4 NLT

By His grace and mercy, He has granted us the ability to enter into His vineyard. Through the shed blood of His Son, He has made the way for us to be grafted into the Vine. Through the presence of His Holy Spirit, He has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness — plowing the land and clearing the stones. He has given us His Word that we may drink deeply from the depth of His Truth. And yet, we are preoccupied with ourselves and our own selfish ambition. Rather than being branches that bear much fruit as He intended (John 15:5), we have become bitter grapes.

Jesus went on to say

Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father. John 15:6–8

Let us not be useless branches that wither and are burned in a pile. Let us not turn from His unconditional love. Rather let us seek Him with our whole hearts — that we might experience the fullness of His presence and the empowering wind of His Spirit — being His true disciples through whom He brings Himself great glory.

I’d rather be a branch on the Vine that brings great glory to my Father.