Going Deeper 04.30.2021

The Gospel reading for the Fifth Sunday of Easter... John 15:1-8

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

We, as children of God, are to bear fruit.  This teaching is abundantly clear throughout all of the Scriptures.  Of course, bearing fruit is a metaphor for good works.  And the hard truth is that if we are not bearing fruit in the form of good works, something is wrong... and according to the letter of James, "Faith without works is dead."  In this Gospel text Jesus goes as far as warning that branches (that's us) which do not bear fruit "are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."

Jesus also makes clear what we need to do if we conclude that we are in the category of no-fruit-bearing.  It's not merely a matter of improving our discipline and resolving to do more of the things Christians should do.  The key is to pay attention to our connection as branches to the life-and-fruit-producing "Vine."  The primary work which needs to be attended to is the work of perceiving, believing, and receiving.

First, we perceive the truth of our weakness/sin and confess to God and to another that we have not only sinned in thought, word, and deed, but also have fallen short of fully loving and serving God and neighbor.  In repentance we return--over and over and over again--to the Vine, to the One we believe has washed our sin away.  And then we receive grace and the Holy Spirit, and the love we receive moves us to respond by bearing fruit.

You see, it's not about becoming more religious and devout.  It is about relationship, about drawing nearer to God, experiencing His love, and having His love flow first to us, and then through us to others.  This is the pathway to producing the good fruits of faith.

Together in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"