Blogging Towards Sunday May 10, 2009
This teaching of Jesus is famous, beautiful and upon deeper analysis quite challenging. We tend to practice Christianity – following the teachings of Jesus – either through our actions and/or words. We place a large emphasis upon evangelism, mission and works of justice. These are active ways of sharing the good news of knowing the heart of God through the life, words, work and death of Jesus of Nazareth. We live in a culture and society in which our worth is most often measured through our works, our importance is based upon what we can do or have done. Our world today isn’t much different than that of ancient Palestine that Jesus turned upside down through his ministry.
Jesus says that you can discern if someone is a follower of him by the fruit that person bears, the visible aspect of practicing faith in the way they live. Is it about works? Their quality? Their quantity? Or is it something else? The deep truth is that the branch doesn’t produce the fruit, rather it bears the fruit created by the tree in its roots. Jesus then goes on to say that discipleship is about relationship, about abiding in him. Those that bear good fruit are those in relationship, relational people: living from their relationship to God and living into that relationship. We are called to relationality, interdependence, solidarity, compassion. How can these two things go together?
Of course things get trickier thinking about the context of this week in my church: first Sunday gathering since I shared that I will leave. How do we stay in relationship when we know that there's a time limit? How do we chose to love when we feel hurt?; want to protect ourselves from future hurt?; when we can stand to be in the uncomfortable zone of neither here nor there....in the in between? Maybe that's the hardest thing about community: not just loving your enemies, but loving when you know that someone will leave?; in the fear of being abandoned?; or knowing what tomorrow holds and not necessarily wanting it?