Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fruit salad

A grape: Palatina / Eine weiße Tafeltraubensor...Image via Wikipedia

Earlier today, Gideons across the world gathered for a special prayer service centered around fruit - already harvested and enjoyed plus fruit yet to be harvested. The scripture theme for this service came from the Gospel of John:

Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Joh 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
Joh 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Joh 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
(King James Version)

I enjoy from time to time reading the paraphrase "the Message". I do this with full understanding that this is not God's Word, but more a restating commentary on his word - hence, a paraphrase.

Joh 15:5 "I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. The Message

As always, it is important to understand who is being spoken to, and when, in context, are these workds being spoken.

Just after finishing with the Passover, singing a hymn, and a demonstration of servant leadership, Jesus led the disciples on a walk to the Garden of Gethsemene. On the way, passing a vine (grape vine?) he stopped to continue with his teaching of the disciples. Two main thoughts come to my mind from His words- both centered around the word abide. The Greek word used here is μένω, transliterated as menō, and pronounced as men'-o. This word is a primary verb; meaning to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy).

My first thought is that it is impossible to abide except ye be joined. This is where I like the Message, as it brings forth the depths to which we should be connected with the desires of our Father. If you've ever seen a live grape vine, you will recall that it is impossible to determine the exact spot where the branch ends and the vine begins! This is how connected God expects us to be in our relationship with Him. The lines of separation between our life and His life in us are to be blurred. Remember the words of Paul to the church in Galatia, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". Gal 2:20

Once we are connected, we are to remain in place, stay put - or as your Mom said, "Don't you dare move!" This is probably the hardest part of our Christian walk, as the enemy confronts us with many tests in his attempts to separate us from our relationship with our Saviour. Once we reach the mountain top, we often spend too much time basking in the marvelous blessings that God has granted to us and we don't spend enough time in praise and thanksgiving for those blessings. Before you know it, it's back down the other side of the mountain and start the journey all over again.

I'm convinced that I've known a lot of Christians over the years who simply didn't like climbing mountains, and they have, as a result, been content to spend their life in the valleys. In so doing they become ineffective witnesses, lukewarm warriors unconcerned about both the enemy and the cause.
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