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 down. It's not even that you are simply wrong. You are evil. And evil needs to be destroyed. So I embark on a mission to shut you down. And extreme example of our cancel culture expressed itself last week, after David Koch died. Liberals celebrated.

Nothing more needs to be said.


Years ago, if you didn't like a TV show or a movie, you wouldn't watch it. Now you can ensure that no one watches it, just by slinging some outrage on social media. Decades ago, conservative Christians had strategies and publications for doing such things. I didn't like it then, and I certainly don't like it now.


Our age of outrage knows no partisan bounds. Everybody's doing it. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, even ESPN does it. Their currency is outrage and offense. Christopher Hitchens once said, "Those who are determined to be offended will discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics. And it is degrading to make the attempt." The companion thought is from Bruce Lee: "You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic. If words control you that means everyone can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass." That's what branches do when they're connected to the Vine. That's Galatians 5:22-23. That's all good.


One final thought. A woman on Twitter writes, "I smiled at this nice older gentleman as he walked by and he said, 'It's a cloudy day outside but your smile just brightened my day!' I then told him he was a sexist jerk and he shouldn't tell women to smile. Just kidding. I said, 'Thank you so much! That's sweet!' cuz I'm not a bitter psycho." Thank you, Whitney, for your reasonableness. That's Galatians 5 stuff right there.


One final, final thought. Comedians who once worked college gigs are no longer doing so. To quote Tommy Lee Jones, "It's called a joke! We used to tell them before people became offended by everything." Sometimes I think we live in a post-humor world. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. What a joy and a privilege to spread grace and mercy wherever we go!


Winsomely Yours,


Richard

124 views

Recent Posts

See All

Fall is Here

September 23, 2020 Leadership Notes For me, this is the first fall without football since before I could remember anything. My earliest football experience wasn't specifically about me watching footba

Responsibly Moving Forward

September 16, 2020 Leadership Notes Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Here's a mid-pandemic update on life here at Covenant Church: * Sunday School is moving out