Monday, August 16, 2010

Pass Me The Salt Please

It is corn season in my part of the world and many of my friends are loving it. I do not know why I am not partial to it but they obviously love it. Going into the grocery store we find a big bin overflowing with the delightful treat, all wrapped up in its protective husk. Beside the filled bin is a large empty container for the use of the stores customers. For those uninitiated to the tradition of corn husking this may seem a bit strange. The thing is that with the corn all tucked away in its husk you never know what you are buying. Imagine how disappointed you would be to get home, your mouth watering with great anticipation, the pot of boiling water waiting to receive its object of purpose, only to discover rotten corn as you pulled back the husk. Perhaps an insect had crawled in and spoiled the corn or perhaps it had dried out. There are any number of things that could have made that corn unfit for consumption. So this is why most people husk their corn in the store to make sure they are getting a good product.

The Christian life can be compared to this corn. On the outside everything looks great but when we peel back the image we often project we may be surprised, even horrified with what we find at the heart, where it really matters. I am one who believes that it is possible to be a vibrant, alive and even passionate Christian and still end up rotten. It is a matter of neglect, laziness, maybe pride, lack of maturity and understanding that can lead people to let go of Christ and start believing in their own abilities. The sad thing is that these people can fool themselves into believing that everything is okay and that they are on track.

What we know is the Christian is suppose to have a certain flavour about him. We could say aroma as well but for the purpose of the scripture we are using we are going to stick to flavour. Jesus taught:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. (Matthew 5:13)

The only way we can retain our flavour is by remaining in Christ and Christ in us. Jesus gave us a great image to understand this relationship:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5-6)

It is possible to remove ourselves from the vine. It is possible to become a dry twig that fools itself into believing it is still connected to the vine and producing. However, in the Body of Christ it is an easy thing for people to know what is at the center without doing any peeling. Perhaps it is a thing we choose to ignore because we do not want to be accused of judging and we don't want to get mixed up in any problems, so we ignore the evidence. Yet, Jesus taught us how to know:
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16-20)

We must make every effort to stay connected to the vine, because no one has the authority to remove us except the Father and he will only do it if we are not producing fruit. We know the fruit because it is the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

We cannot fake this fruit because the fruit is not produced by us but by the Spirit in us. The Spirit produces it in us because we are connected to Jesus. Without Jesus there is no Spirit and without the Spirit there is no fruit. The fruit is not the source of our connectedness with Christ but instead it is the result.

We have a specific flavour about us, whether the world appreciates it or not. That flavour is not us but is of Jesus. The last thing we want is for the world to taste our flavour because there is no value in that. We have nothing to offer this world except Jesus so if we are without Jesus we have no value. We are as disappointing to people as that rotten corn is to the hungry man. The solution is not a difficult one: make your relationship with Jesus Christ the most important priority in your life. Hold on to that saltiness by holding on to Jesus. Immerse yourself in his love, in worship, praise, testimony. Write about him, sing about him, tell stories about him, talk to him, walk with him. He must be your everything and remain your everything if you are going to be a fruit bearer. Value in this life is only found in Jesus Christ. The sooner we understand and accept that the sooner the Spirit is able to produce things in us that please our Father.

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