“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and You will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for Your souls, for My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing…. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.”John 15:5, 7-8
Last week, I wrote about identifying our assets, the gifts, the bent that God has bestowed upon every human being at the time of their creation; however, we are born into a world, fallen because of Satan’s intervention, and so those assets or gifts lack the fullness of all God intends them to be until they begin the process of being redeemed by Christ when we come to Him, receive Him and trust Him as our Savior.
I want to use these two passages to paint a picture of the church, acting together around the world, to release the assets God has presented us all with to the glory of God and the flourishing of culture.
First, the church is made up of individuals who have come to Jesus. Each one has come to take upon himself the yoke of Jesus…that is, has harnessed himself to Jesus, to learn from Him and to be His disciple. Just that posture of walking with Jesus and learning from Him brings peace and blessed quiet to our souls.
Second, the church is the culmination of all the individuals who have harnessed themselves to Jesus and continue in the process of being connected to the vine. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. By being connected to the Vine, we receive nourishment and we bear fruit.
Third, when we are connected to the Vine, we are united in Jesus because we all are receiving the same nourishment and the same message because His message is living in all of our hearts.
Fourth, as we live in a united position in Jesus with His message in our hearts, He promises us that we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us.
Fifth, God is honored and glorified when we bear fruit, both the individual flourishing assets and the combined assets of the full church body, coming together to bear fruit.
Sixth, God is honored and glorified when we prove ourselves to be His true disciples. How do we do this? By being connected to the Vine and individually and corporately bearing fruit.
Dear brothers and sisters, what a picture! Groups of people around the world united in the Vine of Jesus Christ, continuing to be fully connected to Him in every way and therefore united to Him completely, bearing fruit, loving each other, using the assets He has given us and is continuing to develop in us, identifying and encouraging the assets of others, building up one another, receiving one another, all to the honor and glory of God. And we do this so that we are proving that we are God’s so that as we go forth into the community, the world, people will listen to and believe us because we have been authenticated by our lives in Christ. We are free then to speak the Gospel message to others because God will be opening their hearts to respond to His work in their lives. Jesus has full authority over heaven and earth, and we have been sent.
Will we go out and forth in the authority and power of Jesus Christ or will we reject it? My great prayer is that we, individually and as one in Christ, will be and do all that He has called us to in this late hour.