Sunday, March 22, 2009

fruit or the vine?

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." - Proverbs 14:12

As Christians, we desire to be fully devoted followers of Christ, to be found pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. And as a response of sincerely wanting to live the abundant life in Christ that the bible calls us to, we fill our spiritual lives with certain disciplines and activities that are reflective of that which we want to be: fully devoted followers of Christ.

Things like reading our bibles daily, spending time in prayer, going to church, to lifegroup/biblestudy/sunday school are among those things which we associate with an "Evangelical-Bible-Believing-born-again Christian" We may even further be involved as ushers, and childcare workers, volunteering in a variety of service and mission opportunities, even leading people to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior; these are the "do's". Conversely, we also dissociate Christians with certain activites, such as drinking, speeding, cursing, unkindness, hate, and on and on the list of "don'ts" goes.

And so goes the Christian religion: do the activities that are reflective of a believer; bear fruit. Consequently, the underlying point of all the activities (or non activities) is this: if I do the "do's" and refrain from the "don'ts", then I am a fully devoted follower of Christ; a Christian. But is that the point? Is this the message that the bible teaches? Is the fruit the point, or is there more to it?

To be clear, I am not condemning these Christian activities. There is nothing wrong with having bible studies, reading the bible in a year, serving at church, etc. These are wonderful Christian disciplines and activites. However, they are not the point.

One of the essential beliefs of Christianity is that we are saved by grace alone. period. It is impossible to earn our salvation through the doing of works, of "Christian activities." As Christians, we know this; it is hard-wired into our very being. We know that these activities don't save us, but we want to do them, out of a response of what Christ has done for us.

Paul says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10"

And so we go, ever so passionately striving to be that fully devoted follower of Christ, dying to one's self, taking up our cross, and engaging in fruit activities. But the subtlty of all our activity is that we do fruit-like activities to show that we are fully devoted followers of Christ, instead of seeking and knowing the One that produces fruit in us. Remember what Paul says in Galations 5:22: "but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentelness, and self-control. Notice that this fruit is born of the Holy Spirit in us, not of ourselves.

So what's the point? Let's look at what the One we follow said:

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:4-5

What does this mean? It means seek the Lord. Seek to remain in Him. Don't just read the Bible; devour it; meditate on it. Seek His face. Ask him to help you understand what you read. Tell him what you feel when you read His word. Be still; listen. learn what it means to pray without ceasing. Seek to know the Lord Jesus, and to be known by him, for apart from him, we can bear no true fruit.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'
Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers!'" Matthew 7:21-

Serving Him does not replace us knowing Him. Activity does not equal life.

Does this resonate with you? Have you found yourself in seasons where the fruit , not the vine, was the goal?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for passing on these scriptures, it gives me great comfort today as I just had time to read this. Just like reading my bible, I often wake up to more pressing things and forget to stop and feed my spirit and commune with God before each day. I ended yesterday and started today very frustrated as I thought about "Christians" and there lack of devotion to missions and service. If it fits there personal schedule to the exact day and time then they will try to work it out but if not then just going to church will be enough to check the box on the list. After reading these passages I think more about the relationship with Christ and what bearing fruit means. When we are connected to him and bear fruits of the Spirit then probably service to him just can't be missed. It calms my soul today and revises my prayer to God on what I want him to reveal to me. Keep sharing as someone is always watching!!!!!!!! KD

Anonymous said...

This was very helpful...I was doing a bible study and just this...and you put it into words so well...thank you
Also I did notice when looking up the verses for research that the first verse is actually Prov 14:12.

graynation said...

Opps! good catch on the proverbs verse... i'll get that changed right away. Thanks for reading - I'm glad that it was helpful.