“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.
John 15:5-8 (HCSB)
A few days ago, I had this thought. Ministers, pastors, and churches are some of the best defenders of the status quo there are. We (and I have participated in this in the past as well) are able to demonstrate and come up with incredible excuses and reasons that we are failing at the mission of the church – to reach our lost world with the Gospel of Christ.
For some, we use the popular Market or Economy Excuse. “Our people aren’t giving, so we as a church can’t afford to spend money on reaching the lost because we have to keep our doors open. We have to take care of our own needs.”
For others, we use the Culture Excuse. The community has become so corrupt and lawless that we don’t know how to reach them with the Gospel. Frankly, this church has been here for generations, so if they are seeking God, they know where to find us.
Still others, use the Remnant Excuse. Very few people will enjoy worshiping the way we do. And we believe (or prefer) so strongly in our method of worship, that anyone who doesn’t want to join us can go to hell.
Tragically, it is the use of these excuses that blinds us from a reality that should shake us to the very core… we’re fruitless. Our branches are bare. Make no mistake, we put on beautiful greenery. Our seminary degrees, our conferences, and our programs give the impression that we are capable of bearing fruit, but if we’re honest, most of us aren’t seeing the fruit.
The statistics are in. We are losing the battle. We are failing in our mission. We’ve marred, beaten, and bruised the Bride of Christ. The power of Christ in his people should be a movement of love and grace that changes cultures and peoples, but we’ve relegated it to an hour (or maybe two) of “services” in a building.
Jesus said that he is the Vine – a perfect and life-giving vine. We are his branches. We are his chosen method of reaching into our surroundings. And he said that if we remain in him, we will produce much fruit. And that is how we prove to the world we are his disciples. And that glorifies our Father.
He also made it very clear what would happen to the branches that didn’t produce fruit.
And so, I wonder…
What excuse do you tend to lean on? Market? Culture? Remnant? or something else?
What practice do you use to strengthen your connection to the Vine?
Photo by Flumpster