John 15.4 : Eating rotten fruit… or is it?

John 15.4 Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

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So – if true fruit is only born by our lives when we are abiding in the vine, (when we are making our home in Jesus, when we know that the foundational component of our identity is that we are loved by Jesus)… what are these other things that our lives produce when we are not anchored in this reality?  They can’t be fruit… because we’re producing them when we are not at home in the vine.
I know I sound harsh as I say this… but this is the truth.  If we are not finding our home, our primary identity, our most significant satisfaction from simply being related to Jesus (the vine), then whatever it is that we are producing in our lives is definitely not spiritual fruit as described in John 15.  It’s something else.

rotten-fruit

My goodness.  How many committee meetings I ave attended, how many times I have given sacrificially, how many times I have started or promoted a ministry in my local church… really only so that I can feel good about the fact that my life is making a difference in the kingdom?  And the problem here is that many of these things that I put my hand to succeeded – so then I was able to obtain a decent amount of self-definition and self-value through doing these things well. Made my home among the fruit, rather than the vine.

I started a church in Dallas in 1998.  Along with 5 families.  We had such a good time.  And we also had more drama than I care for.  We ran (at our largest) around 300 people.  After 2 years we were self-supporting financially.  We purchased a million dollar piece of property.  I had a staff of 5 people, and we reached a large number of people who had no church background.  We were creative, not bound by previous traditions (imagine a Southern Baptist church where you didn’t have to be baptized to be a member!!), and welcomed homosexuals to our family of faith.  We prided ourselves on being an open, grace-filled, evangelistic, creative community of faith.  I actually wanted to call the church “The Journey”, rather than Crossroads… because I liked the concept of being on a journey, rather than the concept of crisis which a crossroads presents.

I’m convinced that all of these really good things were used by God to reveal himself, because he’s bigger than my insecurities.  But I’m pretty sure that these things were not the fruit described in John chapter 15.  The fruit of John 15 is for the glory of the farmer/vine dresser. I believed at the time that it was for God’s glory.  But on deeper introspection, I believe that my strong drive to have an effective, growing, creative church was fueled more by my desire to be someone special.

Problem is, God is already crazy in love with me.  Before I even did anything. That’s the danger of trying to be at home among the fruit, rather than in the love of the saviour.  Things get messed up.  Like me.


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