Independence means that we are free and endowed with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Largely, this has been the rallying cry for the American dream. Independence includes the opportunity for prosperity and success achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. The American Dream is rooted in an independence that is necessary for true success.
Far from being independent from Him, Jesus says that His followers are dependent upon Him. Life is not found in our independence from God, but in our dependence upon Christ. This passage in John 15 shows that discipleship involves a character that abides dependently in Jesus Christ for life and strength. This is a rich passage that describes the source of the Christian life. Many believers down through the centuries have drank deeply of its soul satisfying truth. One such Christian was Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, who was greatly used by God and responsible in the mid-19th century for leading hundreds of missionaries into China’s interior for the first time. In 1869, when he was 37 years old, Hudson Taylor entered a new phase of life in which, by his own admission and testimony, he began to drink more deeply at the experiential fountain of John 15. He was given a deeper, and more constant, more satisfying experience of abiding in Christ.
Because of their vital connection to Him as the true vine, Jesus says His disciples produce fruit. John 15 is perhaps the most revealing chapter in the Bible that explains for us the nature and character of the true follower of Christ. His disciples are known by the fruit that is produced in their lives through abiding in Him. Spiritual fruit is produced supernaturally in our lives as branches through the life that comes from Christ our Living Vine. He is the Vine, and His disciples are the branches. Just as a branch depends on the vine for life, health, and growth, so also do the followers of Christ depend upon Him for the source of their life and growth. And just as a branch cannot bear fruit unless it is part of the vine, so also believers cannot bear spiritual fruit unless they are in union with Christ.