Summary: Part 2 of 3 in the series "A Declaration of Dependence." We must (1) stop denying and start depending; (2) stop trying and start trusting; (3) stop resisting and start persisting; (4) stop pouting and start praying; and (5) stop delaying and start obeyin
WHOSE VINE IS IT ANYWAY?
A Declaration of Dependence
July 11, 2004
This week we will be continuing our series titled “A Declaration of Dependence.” During this month in which we celebrate our independence as a nation I want us to turn our attention to our dependence upon God in every area of life. In our last message we saw that we are completely dependent upon God for our salvation. This week we will see that our need to depend upon God does not stop there - rather it starts there.
We have a tendency to depend too much on ourselves. We trust in our own abilities to get things done. We put faith in our own ingenuity to figure things out. We as a people are often times very much like the proverbial man who won’t stop to ask for directions when he is clearly lost. We are confident that we can find a way to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and keep on going by ourselves.
As a nation this is particularly true in our day. More than ever we have come to the conclusion that we don’t need God. And so we find the mention of God being removed from public life all across the country. And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg if this trend isn’t reversed. So what do we do? We find Christians responding with much the same kind of independent attitude. We fight it in the courts. We seek to elect people to congress who agree with our viewpoint. We petition our senators and representatives when key legislation is being considered to insure that they will vote the way we want them to. We hold protests and demonstrations in the streets to call attention to our agenda.
Do you know why we are not more successful? Because we are fighting the world on their terms. All of the things I have just mentioned are things that they are doing as well. They file motions and lawsuits, petition congress, organize protests and letter writing campaigns. These are the things they depend upon rather than God. And we are doing the same.
I am not saying that we should stop doing any of those things nor am I saying that any of those things are wrong. But we must remember who we are and whose we are. Whose Vine Is It Anyway? It’s God’s vine as we will see in our text for today. We belong not to ourselves, but to God. True and lasting change will never come through the legislation, but through life change. America will not be saved through societal reform, but through revival.
This concerns me because, quite frankly, I am not sure the church in America has the spiritual vitality to lead such revival. If fact, I am fairly certain of it. The more we come to depend upon ourselves or worldly tactics the less we depend upon God. And the less we depend upon God the closer we come to spiritual death.
1. Stop Denying and Start Depending
Jesus told us what happens to a branch that stops drawing on or depending on the vine for its source of life. It stops producing fruit and is cut off by the gardener. Listen to his words:
1I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Contrary to the opinion of some in the church God does not want us to simply be faithful, but fruitful as well. God expects us to produce. He wants us to get results for his kingdom. Just look at the parable of the talents and what was said to the one who did not multiply his investment. You see God has invested in us and he expects to see a return just like the gardener who has invested in his garden and expects to see some fruit.
We see in these verses that God expects his people to get results. The branches that don’t produce fruit are cut off because the gardener will not waste his time feeding and watering that which is worthless. But when he finds a branch that does produce fruit he prunes it, not as punishment, but so that it will bear even more fruit next time.
You see gardeners know that certain types of plants need to be pruned in order to produce up to their full potential. We have some raspberry bushes in our backyard, but they haven’t been pruned for some time and so it doesn’t look like they are going to produce much this year. So in the fall we are going to prune them back and hopefully they will do better next year.