“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2).
I live on Vineyard Road which is about an hours drive from the fruitful hills and wineries of Napa Valley in Northern California. I’m intrigued by the wine making process, and there is no better place to taste and grow wine.
My physical location is a reflection of an even bigger spiritual truth and call to Make Disciples. Jesus gave His followers a command: “Follow Me.” And a promise: “I will equip you to find others to follow Me.”
Good vineyard owners examine and take care of their grapes. Inspection ensures the grapes are transformed into the choicest of vine. Bad, sour or bitter grapes are consistently removed from the vine.
Jesus and His father were the original fruit inspectors. Being a disciple of Jesus means we are being transformed daily into His image. We learn from Him, fellowship with Him, and obey everything that he commands us. Acting on and abiding in the truth seekers words from two thousand years ago, “Follow me” creates the fertile soil that produces good fruit.
In the same way that the Napa Valley intrigues me, God wants to change us so much that it intrigues others. This is what gives us the opportunity to tell others about the God who is transforming us, and changing us into the choicest of vine. Teaching others about Christ is essential to being one of Jesus’s disciples. When good teachers, leaders, and followers of Christ teach others how to love and obey Jesus, we are fulfilling His command to make disciples.
Weak or bad leaders like bitter or sour grapes do not help us to grow. Defective leadership leads us astray and contributes to chaos and destruction. Examples of this type of leadership were notable during the United States Election. When leaders, including the media fail to inform and educate us, in an ethical and objective way, we must examine the fruit of their leadership and spot for ourselves prideful, deceptive and charlatan leaders who offer quick pat, hollow answers, or paint over complex issues with broad brushes. This leadership style causes chaos and division. It also makes us vulnerable as a nation. We loose sight of reality, are left ignorant to current threats, and open to attacks from the enemy.
In the same way that Jesus and His father are fruit inspectors, we as the Church must examine the way we are called to live together. We follow the example of the Savior of humanity caring for one another in the faith community and inviting sinners, or those living on the margins, into our community. Just as grapes are intertwined on the branches and protected under a canopy of leaves, we must protect each other and teach people what Jesus commanded. We intertwine our lives with the Christians around us for the common good.
Good vineyard owners know how to treat and take care of their vines. God too cares about the way we love each other and the way we pursue his mission. Discipleship is not a canned program, and we are not called to have a spectator mentality. Jesus invites all of us to be a part of his plan. He commands us all: “Go into all the world and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19).