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We are the vine

August 28, 2019

Leadership Notes

Last Sunday, in our series on John's Gospel, we looked at John 15. This is where Jesus talks about being the Vine and we are the branches. For me, it's striking when Jesus tells us we are the branches. We are the ones connected to Jesus. God is the Gardener. We're not gardeners. We are called to produce fruit, which is the result of the work of the Gardener. That's what we do when we're connected to Jesus. We don't do the work of the Gardener. That's a point Jesus makes clear not only in chapter 15, but throughout his teaching ministry.

What was exciting for me in preparing last Sunday's message was the connection with Galatians 5. For a while now, we've been focusing on what it means to be a church producing fruit of the Spirit. We've been talking about love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. In writing Galatians 5:22-23, Paul is clearly building on what Jesus says in John 15. We are the branches. What kind of fruit do we produce? Paul says here's how you need to be showing people who Christ is and what he's doing in the world. Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. And branches produce what is essential to the Vine. The Gardener judges and corrects and prunes. Our job is to be a reflection of the grace and mercy of the Vine.

So how are we living in the world? What is our attitude? What do we reflect back to a broken and fallen world?

Somebody recently said that we are now a cancel culture. "What, pray tell, is that?" says you. Simple. If someone says something you don't like or disagree with or, *gasp and vapors* you are offended by, instead of respecting differences of opinion or engaging in a vigorous conversation in the marketplace of ideas, you simply demand anyone who annoys you to be cast out of polite society.

Here is the mantra of our cancel culture: boycott, blacklist or shutdown. Here's how that plays out. Let's say you own a bakery. You refuse, on grounds of personal belief, to not bake for me a specific kind of cake. Instead of bringing my business to any number of other bakeries who will bake my cake {we are still a free-market economy?} I demand a pound a flesh…or flour, in this case. I will shut you