The Secret Ingredient - John 15:1-17

Pancakes were a Saturday morning staple in my home growing up. They were nothing fancy: just out-of-the-box pancake mix. But, my dad always added the “secret ingredient” of cinnamon in order to bring our pancakes to the next level. In reality, cinnamon wasn’t the real secret ingredient. No, what made Saturday pancakes a special family tradition (one that I carry on today) was the fact that we were all home together. The rest of the week my dad (and my mom to some extent) was at work and my sister and I were buckling down to schoolwork, or, in the case of Sundays, we were out the door early to serve at church. The only morning of the week we were all together was Saturdays.

The secret ingredient to a fulfilling and fruitful Christian life isn’t all that different that the one that made my adolescent Saturdays special. In John 15:1-17, Jesus repeatedly hinges fruitfulness, joy, and mutual love on abiding and remaining in his presence. A fruitful life is all about being together with our Savior:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned…. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full… I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide… These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” – John 15:4-6, 11, 16 & 17

This contrasts the typical way we think about fruitful lives. It’s all to easy to quite fruitfulness with productivity. In order to be productive, the necessary ingredients include things like effort, education, strategy, time management, and connections. None of these are bad things, but they aren’t the keys to a fruitful life according to Jesus.

I’ve heard it said that Jesus didn’t die on the cross in order to make us employees; he did it to make us sons and daughters. The goal of creation originally was for us to be in relationship with God and the goal of the Jesus’ mission on earth was to restore relationship, not for the sake of making us more productive individuals, but simply for the sake of the relationship.

Oftentimes we view “quiet time” with God as a chore or a tool. It’s something God requires of me, so I do it (or feel guilty when I don’t’). Or, if I do it, then God will bless me. This idea comes from viewing fruitfulness through the lens of the world, where fruitfulness equals productivity. But in God’s kingdom, fruitfulness is defined as a thriving relationship with God that so overflows in love that others are drawn into it. Abiding in God’s presence isn’t a means to an end; it is the end itself. We were created to be in union with God and to carry that union to the ends of the earth. That’s what “mission” is all about. Making disciples is joining God in his invitation to others to join the divine dance and to journey together deeper into the heart of our Creator.

Missions Spotlight:
The Alliance

Grace Chapel is part of an international missions movement called The Christian & Missionary Alliance. There have been some incredible developments despite COVID19, including the sending of 40 new international workers. The video below highlights the journey of the Yangs—a recently appointed international worker family—and see how their struggles, adversities, and triumphs solidified God’s clear call to GO! When you give to Grace, a portion of your giving goes to support missionaries like the Yangs. 

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