“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” - John 15:5-8 (Msg)
For those who have any desire to make an impact for the Kingdom while they are in this world, John 15 couldn’t be more paramount.
I have been to my share of conferences about how to be effective in ministry. I’ve read my share of books that propose how to grow organizations. I have attended my share of seminars and courses that talk about how to have an ever-increasing impact. All all of these have been valuable.
However, these four verses, if lived out, is what will cause us to have the greatest possible impact.
We are quick to foster an environment of greater effectiveness but slow to foster an environment of greater intimacy. I know I am quick to sharpen my mind and my skills, but slow to sharpen my spirit. I find it easier to fill space with knowledge and words, but harder to fill space with the great nothingness of intimate and organic relationship with God.
The dire reality though is apart from that intimate environment we accomplish nothing. We become useless. John goes even further than useless. Separate from God we are only good as firewood. Fruit is the evidence of spiritual life, and the lack of fruit is the mark of spiritual bareness.
How much time do we spend on acquiring knowledge and skills verses making ourselves at home with God? The first is useless without the second.
And read verse 8 again: “This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes…” Incredible. God reveals Himself to the world when we produce fruit. Nothing could be more important than God showing Himself to the world. And therefore, nothing could be more important for us than making ourselves at home with Jesus.