Some of you may know that Heart of a Warrior was invited to minister to men incarcerated at Lino Lakes Prison under the auspices of Prison Fellowship and its Interfaith Fellowship. We (myself and 5 other men affiliated with Heart of a Warrior) have been meeting with these men every week since October.
Last Wednesday we spent time going over John 15:1-8.
The Vine and the Branches
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain 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.
5"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. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
A question was asked about the 'fruit.' Essentially, it had to do with 'fruit' from nonbelievers versus 'fruit' from believers--what's the difference? Certainly, people who don't know Christ can express behavior that is honorable and commendable. There are many stories of Christian-like behavior from secular people. However, the fruit is different. Philanthropic and humanitarian acts are indeed evident in our society. So what makes the 'fruit' of Christians different?
John 15 indicates that true Christian fruit comes from the "vine." The vine in this passage is Christ. Every fruitful act, in this case, finds its expression tied back to the vine. Our fruitful acts point to their source, Jesus Christ. They carry in themselves the DNA of Christ as long as they find their impetus from the life-giving vine.
When I lived in New York I would often take trips to the Finger Lakes. In that region are grown some of the finest grapes for wine. Many of the vineyard would allow customers to clip grapes from the vines. These grapes had a particular taste not matched by any other vines from other regions. If you wanted these grapes because of their unique taste you had to go to the Finger Lakes to get them. The taste came from the vine in the vineyard.
Similarly, the fruitful acts from Christians bear the taste of Christ-likeness only found in the Vine, Jesus Christ. Once people experience fruit from this vine they are compelled to seek out the Vine from which they find their unique taste. So what are you saying Greg?
Simply this--the fruit (behaviors that give evidence of the source) point back to the vine they come from, Jesus Christ. People want to know why such behavior leaves such a pleasing taste they haven't experienced from the fruit of non-believers. Such fruit carries the DNA of the vine they come from. So, performing fruitful acts should have as their primary purpose the intention of demonstrating the love of Christ to a fallen world. We should always be prepared to share why we do such things--to share the fruit that can only come from the kingdom of God through Christ.
Every act of kindness should point back to the giver of life, Jesus. Expect nothing in return except the opportunity to share the source of such kindness.
I would enjoy your response to this blog.