One of the exciting things that is happening at New Durham Chapel this weekend is our “Taste of the World” event. “Taste of the World” is a big outreach event that we have where we invite the community to come and enjoy a wide variety of food that is prepared by the people in our church family that represent many different nations. I believe last year we had between 12 – 14 food tables from different nations represented. This event is really a celebration of the diversity and nationalities of many of the folks who worship at our chapel. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to fellowship and connect with one another and with our community. One of the things that is most important about our event this weekend is that we make sure that we are connected to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the source of any fruitfulness that we may produce. In fact Jesus tells His disciples, in the message known as the upper room discourse, the importance of abiding in Him. We read Jesus’ words, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing”, ( John 15:4 –5 NASB). We were discussing last week the difference between the pruning hand of God and the purging hand of God. As we saw last week our Heavenly Father is indeed the vine dresser. But all of that purging that goes on is for the purpose of us producing “much fruit”. But any fruit that we produce must be connected to the vine, the Lord Jesus Christ. Again Jesus says, “for apart from me you can do nothing”, (v.5b). I think this is one of the hard sayings of the Lord Jesus Christ. No prophet or apostle would ever have made this statement. In fact if Jesus Christ was a mere man He couldn’t have made the statement. But I must clarify that there are lots of things that we can do. Many churches are doing all kinds of “things” to attract a crowd. In this day and age that we live in where there is a real disdain for the concept of the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior many have compromised this truth to accommodate a worldview that would rather would rather not be confronted by the sin issue. But the only way to recognize one’s need for a Savior is to recognize that in fact one is a sinner. But yes we can do lots of activities and fill up our schedule with a lot of plans that may even be pleasing to man. But unless we abide in the vine we can do nothing that is of true spiritual value and that will produce eternal fruit. Satan is very subtle in our day and he can lead us to occupy ourselves with all kinds of busy things to do where we think we are pleasing God. But unless the sap of the vine is flowing through the work and ministry that we are partaking of we will not produce lasting fruit on into eternity. You see the life of the branch is a life of a continual appropriation of the sap from the vine. Jesus didn’t say, “without you I can do nothing”, but rather, “without Me you can do nothing”. Without Christ’s assistance this weekend our “Taste of the World” event might have a great deal of activity and fun things going on but it is not going to produce eternal fruit. Only abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ produces eternal fruit.
The word “abiding” appears some 10 times in the first 10 verses of John 15. Jesus is not talking about our redemption with the use of this word. He is talking about our fellowship with Him and the responsibility that we have of bearing fruit. Abiding calls us to vigilance in our spiritual walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. The reality is that our fellowship with Christ can be broken by unconfessed sin or a hardening of our hearts towards the Lord’s prompting and leading in our lives. I don’t believe we can think too much of Christ but I do believe we can think too little of Him. It’s very easy in these days where our lives are filled up with so many activities and busy schedules to let our time with the Lord Jesus Christ to be put on the back burner. We definitely need to be aware that our lives are a reflection of whether or not we are “abiding” in the Lord Jesus Christ. “To abide” in Christ means we heartily submit ourselves to His leadership and seek to do those things that would be pleasing and acceptable in His eyes. To abide in Christ means to live in the power of His actual presence in our lives and to hold on to Him even in the most desperate of times. I would invite you to join us for our “Taste of the World” event and you can let me know if you sense whether or not we are abiding in Christ in this rather remarkable outreach event. God has ordered up a beautiful day for us on Saturday and I hope that you will find us abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that God will let the sap of the Lord Jesus Christ flow into our hearts and lives so that we may produce much fruit for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Rich Sivo