Part of a recent letter from our friend Dave Coffield.
It is difficult when so many of us have grown up in a Christian culture of either church and/or parachurch where ministry and works are stressed. We have a chaplain who tells us pretty much every time he is standing up front, that our job is to fill the empty fews. So, you feel a little guilty and overwhelmed.
I love the words of Jesus on His way with the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to engage in serious prayer prior to His arrest. He stops by a vineyard and grabs a grape plant and tells them that He is the True Vine and they are branches. Their job is to abide in Him. Their job is to abide in Him.
You know John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” The branch is not concerned about bearing fruit, it is concerned about abiding, about partaking of the rich life of the vine. It will bear fruit if it abides. It cannot not bear fruit.
There has been discussion about what “fruit” is. I like to suggest that fruit is anything that the Holy Spirit wants to produce through a person’s life as they abide in Jesus. And it is seasonal. My friend, Bill Mason, suggests from Psalm 1 that the tree bears fruit “in its season.”
My attention, my focus should be on abiding.
Anytime I am engaging with a believer I want to know how they are abiding. I don’t have concerns about bearing fruit if they are abiding. It is impossible to bear good fruit if you are not abiding. You can produce stuff. Check out the Lord’s comments in Matthew 7 when He says, “Many will say to Me on that day…” They prophesy in His name, they cast out demons in His name, and they perform miracles. Pretty cool. Except…they don’t know Him. They are not abiding in Him.
Do I dare to believe that my value to my Father resides in my relationship with Him?