Let’s be honest with ourselves; regardless of our Christian denomination, we want to live up to the calling of Christ! What Christian does not want to enter heaven one day and be greeted with the words “well done?” The problem is not that we have a wrong desire. The real issue is that too often we train those who observe the faith that it is more important to keep up with ritual Christianity regardless of how it impacts God’s Kingdom.
Would you like some proof? Which do you hear encouraged more from the body behind the pulpit: “be current with your tithe” or “go and make disciples?” Which church functions are better attended: Sunday school or community outreaches? As I mentioned in my last article, what good does it do to care for a tree that is not bearing fruit?
Please don’t think I’m asking that you stop attending your church’s Sunday morning small group time or that I’m suggesting that Jesus doesn’t want us to tithe from what he has given us. I am, however, suggesting that Jesus never expected us to care for the local church building and its members more than we make efforts to change lives for eternity.
So what, then, do I think Jesus would consider fruitful living? Well let’s start from the basics.
- Matthew 28:19 “Go and Make disciples…” This was the farewell command of Jesus. It is a fact of life that typically dying words or farewell addresses are to be taken seriously. This is clearly one way Jesus expects Christians to be fruitful. There are all sorts of ways to make disciples, and so I can’t get in depth in this short article, but there is no way around this command. For Christians to be fruitful we must not just learn what it means for us to be a disciple, but we must teach others as well.
- Luke 6:35 “Love your enemies and do Good.” It is not just a matter of winning souls for the Kingdom, but we must go as far as loving those who openly fight against God and do good things for them and others. Is your church doing a food drive? Give as much as God allows you to, regardless of who the food could be given to.
- John 13:34 “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” This passage comes just after the betrayal is predicted. He encourages the disciples to love each other in the same love he had loved them. This is the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. (My congregation knows I cannot go two sermons without working back to this passage.J) Practically speaking, this means we must love any and all church members regardless of anything they bring to the fellowship or any sin they have committed.
There are just a few ways to begin bearing the kind of fruit Jesus expected us to bring before him. All of these suggestions come straight from the words of Jesus without any twisting or shaping. Remember, Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). He would not have told us to do things that He did not consider to be fruitful for His followers. If we can simply start doing these three things, think of the difference some of our churches would see.
I know what some readers may be thinking. “Sure these are great things to do, but this is a good bit of work to do by myself.” It sure is! However, whoever said you’d do it alone. This is the kind of fruit Jesus expected from all His followers. The old phrase is true; “Many hands make light work.”
I might lose some of you, but please allow me to use a bit of basic math for a moment. According to research from phone survey from 2008, there were 173 million self-proclaimed Christians in the USA.. If every one of those Christians spent the next year witnessing to one lost soul, pouring into their lives, and the soul came to salvation, there would be 346 million Christians in the USA by May 2013. There are only 311 million people in the United States!
Of course the above is a dream scenario that requires EVERY Christian to be used in the salvation of one soul this year. However, think of the impact that would be made if even half of the Christians in the USA strived to save at least one soul in the next year. What would the country look like with another 75 million sold-out, genuine Christians?!?
Sadly enough, very few believers would find this scenario possible. Hebrews offers this condemnation on the many who will refuse to act because they do not feel they can impact a lost soul: “Without Faith, it is impossible to please God.” In other words, if you don’t believe, you life will stay fruitless, which does not please God.
Do you want to hear a “well done” one day? Listen to Jesus’ commands and make efforts to start bearing fruit!
Written by Timothy Hegerich
There is truth in our world, and it lies within the word of the One who created the world. It is my prayer that my thoughts and writings echo this truth and inspire you to seek it for your life today.