Lessons from the Vineyards
Friends of ours have vineyards and a winery in the Loire Valley of France. It’s a heavenly place to visit – it is so peaceful to look out over the rolling hills covered with neat vines, while sipping (of course) on some wonderful cabernet.
What we don’t see, when we visit, is the long hours of pruning to keep those vines in peak condition for bearing fruit. We don’t see the worry about pests and drought which could destroy the crop. We don’t see the “all hands on deck” effort to harvest the grapes at just the right moment.
Jesus says to us, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” We bear fruit when we are well-connected to the vine of God. God also prunes the branches (that’s us) when we are not bearing good fruit. Even when we are fruitful, God prunes us to bear even more fruit. The emphasis is on outcomes. What is the fruit of our labors?
The First letter of John tells us what that fruit is. It is simply love. Love for our neighbors, love for our selves, love for God. When we love like this, God actually lives in us – God comes to dwell in us. We don’t have to work at getting close to God, because God is there when we are loving.
We are meant to grow and bear fruit for God. That fruit is love. Maybe this business of Christianity is not so complicated after all. JBM