Network of tangled branches

By Dave Henning / October 9, 2023

“If you go to a natural vineyard that has a simple trellis system . . . you will find that the branches are tangled together. . . .  This network of tangled branches gives strength and support to each individual branch.  As the newer, younger branches begin to grow, they weave themselves around the stronger, more mature branches.”- Kyle Idleman

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”- John 15:5 (NIV)

In Chapter 10 (“Tangled Up”) of When Your Way Isn’t Working, Kyle Idleman observes that some things fail to work the way they should when you try to do them alone.  For example, Kyle quips:

  • riding a seesaw
  • applying sunscreen to the middle of your back
  • going to Chuck E. Cheese as a grown adult

Above all, Pastor Idleman stresses, staying connected to the vine requires more than a solo effort.  Because, Kyle notes, Jesus never says, “I am the vine, you are the branch.”

However, the author cautions, when we attempt to personalize Scripture, we sometimes read it through an individualistic lens.  As a result, we tend to underestimate the communal aspect of being a branch.  Our Western culture easily infiltrates our approach to faith.  Also, we tend to wear our individualism as a badge of honor.  Hence, Kyle quips:

“We’re quite sure we don’t need help, and if we’re really uncertain about what to do, we can always ask our friends Siri, Google, and Alexa.”

Most significantly, Pastor Idleman states, the connections we do have with people aren’t very deep.  For the last fifteen years, Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor and author of Alone Together, has studied how our “plugged-in” lives have changed our identity.

Thus, she describes our actions in social media as taking little “sips.”  Yet, we believe we’re getting plenty to drink.  Consequently, social media offers the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.  And such connection without commitment leaves us feeling lonelier than ever.

Today’s question: What degree of support do you receive from your church network?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Architect and designer = God”

About the author

Dave Henning

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