One Problem with Christians

Friends,

This past Sunday I preached from Isaiah 5:1-7. These are powerful verses and, to be sure, it is terribly difficult to miss their point. They speak of a people, Israel (Judah), specifically planted and given one task: To bear good fruit. And the vineyard God planted was given every possible advantage and ability to do just that. As we learn, however, ‘He went out to look for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit…He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress’ (2c, 4b, 7). God is looking! God has expectations! The question we must ask ourselves is this: Will he be disappointed with what he finds?

But there are more questions we must ask about this notion of fruit bearing–especially in light of the fact that Jesus practically repeated this song, this parable, verbatim in John 15. There is no doubt here that God is judging us: ‘I looked for good grapes, and it yielded only bad fruit.’ This is no different than what Jesus says in John 15: ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes.’ God is judging us; God is shaping us; God is making decisions about who is and is not worthy of continuing as a part of the vineyard. I wonder if we ever stop to consider that?

Sometimes, in my opinion, we get so caught up in our own judgments about who is and is not producing fruit that we fail to consider that God himself is making those decisions far in advance. I wonder if we trust God’s discernment in these matters or if we are more than convinced that He needs our help?

There are other questions, questions such as: Are we bearing fruit that is edible? I mean, if God finds it detestable, how do others find it; that is, the lost? Are we starving the world because the fruit we produce is worthless? Are we bearing fruit that is pleasing to God first? Are we bearing fruit in keeping with God’s character (righteousness, justice, love)? Are we bearing fruit at all?

Assuming we are bearing fruit, do we stop to consider that God himself is not unaware of our vintage, that he makes the ultimate and, presumably, the only judgment about its quality that matters? I mean, if God is the one who prunes and pares the branches, well, does that mean that only his judgment ultimately matters? Does God need additional fruit inspectors? Or do you think that God’s judgment is sufficient?

So, if God himself has defined the nature of the fruit we are to bear (good & righteousness & justice [Isaiah]; love & lasting [John]), and told us how we are to do so (by remaining in Jesus), and told us for what purpose we are to do it (bring glory to God, John 15:8), and told us that by doing so we demonstrate conclusively to whom we belong (Jesus, John 15:8), then are we, the body of Christ, doing that very thing: Producing fruit in accordance with our call? (John 15:16). Are we producing fruit that is pleasing first to God? Or are we producing bad grapes, a wasted crop, a poor vintage, a harvest worthy of only the fire?

I see this as a serious issue in the church because, as I pointed out in my other post, people are dying and being killed and killing themselves while the church is playing games. Sometimes I think we spend more time inspecting fruit than we do actually producing it. Am I the only one who sees that as a serious, serious problem?

Always For God’s Glory!

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