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Friday, May 1, 2015

Fruit or Firewood

 John 15:1-8
As you read through the book of John, you will encounter 7 different conversations in which Jesus makes very specific, far reaching, and some might say, outrageous statements about Himself. Jesus does not just claim to know these things, or explain these things.  He blatantly claims that He
is these things.  If true, the implications, and impact are tremendous.  The implications reach deep into our real, daily lives.  The impact involves life-changing transformation with everlasting consequence.


John 6: 35, 48 I am the bread of life
John 8: 12, 9:5 I am the light of the world
John 10:9 I am the gate
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd
John 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life
 John 15:1 I am the true vine

You can personalize the implications of each statement by inserting your name in place of “the” in each statement. For example, “I am Cedric's bread of life”  , “I am Cedric's gate." I encourage you try that in your devotional life in the coming week and see what an impact it has on your belief and behavior. Perhaps reflect on what difference these statements should make in your personal inner life, your work life, your church life, your family life, etc.

Before us this week is: "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener."
                                                                                                image sourced here
When Jesus says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower," it becomes clear that they are in a united relationship. God has become united in the One who is both divine and human for John. What becomes even more astonishing is that the branches, we who have been reconciled to God in him, are also now part of that unity.
Most of us are much more comfortable with God being totally "up there," with Jesus being half up there, and us being totally down here. Yet John makes the astounding claim that in Christ, God and humanity are united. A little beyond today's reading, in Jesus' prayer He speaks openly of the unity He has with God and with His disciples. He says that His oneness with God makes our unity with God a reality. That is an astonishing claim, and as I pointed out last week, left His original hearers thinking: "This man is either meshuggah or Messiah." 2000 years later, particularly in the West, we just accept these claims now as Truth (which of course they are), but we just accept them as such without thinking about what they really mean.

Through Christ and in Christ, we are in the Father ... IF ... we remain/abide in Jesus. And when we remain in Him, we bear not just fruit, but much fruit. And when we don't remain in Him, we don't bear fruit and thus become firewood.
And so my title this Sunday is: Fruit or Firewood: what are you?

I have taught you often before that the fruit that God is looking for in you and me, as disciples of Christ, is both inward and outward. The inward fruit is that change which we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us making us a people of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. This inner change leads to the outward manifestation of good works, which God has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:8-10). This is what happens when we let the Spirit guide us, and it produces beautiful fruit in the world around us and we are, quite frankly, beautiful people. Among us are beautiful people who if I pointed at them would be the last to call themselves beautiful and the first tell us of the pruning, sometimes quite severe, that the Lord has had to do in them ... but it is exactly that that makes them all the more beautiful.

But if we are not led by the Spirit ... well, then we are led by our own selfish interests, always needing to get our own way, and that, quite frankly, makes some of us quite ugly. Just as Scripture describes the one led by the Spirit, so too does Scripture describe the one led by the self: It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. The selfish life withers us and makes us ugly ... and in the context of today's I am statement of Jesus, makes us firewood.

So, let the Spirit convict you the this morning: Are you fruit or firewood? Are you a fruitful branch, yes, probably in need of pruning ... or has your selfishness withered you to the point that the gardener, God, who sees us as we really are, sees only firewood.

To us both, the spiritual and the selfish, our Lord says this morning, remain in me and I will remain in you. For some of us that "remain in me" might actually be a "turn back to me", but the invitation is there for us all, as, in a few moments, we hear Him invite us to His Table. Come to His table this morning as an act of remaining in Him, or as an act of returning to Him, or perhaps as an act of coming to Him for the very first time. Each of these is between you and God ... so ... draw near in faith and receive this Sacrament to your blessing.

1 comment:

nudrat khan said...

great post. Inspiring Words.