Podcast 2-7-16 Pastor Josh VanLeeuwen – Vision
Rest In Christ (John 15:1-8)
When you think about your church, what images come to mind? Westview Church is a busy place. There are the usual Sunday morning worship service and discipleship (Discovery Hour) classes and Sunday evening youth groups. During the week are rehearsal time for the praise team, Women of the Word and other Bible study groups, and preschool. In the basement are Waukee Area Christian Services’ free clinic and food pantry, and on the lawn are the WACS community garden and i9 Sports. Throughout the year are Community Game Night, Boy and Girl Scout meetings and events, YMCA after-school programs, monthly support groups and counseling services, banquets and other gatherings. And many more.
Westview Church is a very busy place. Your church probably is, too. We want our churches to be busy. We expect them to be active community builders. Their facilities are perfect meeting places for organizations that don’t have a permanent home, and their membership can be a valuable source of volunteers. Like the early church, modern churches share their resources, but instead of sharing only with others in the church community they offer what they have, including their facilities, to the larger community. Nobody wants a church that is alive and thriving only on Sunday mornings. As the people are out in the world during the week living their faith, the building is, in a way, living its faith in place by offering itself to these various organizations and ministries.
Have you ever thought of your church as a place of rest?
Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” He invites us to remain, or abide, in him. To rest in him, where we are nurtured and restored by him. Consider a grape. Does a grape just appear all on its own and grow into fruit that we can enjoy? No. The grape is a product of a healthy grape vine. It grows on the branch of the vine and receives all it needs to become mature from that vine through the branch. Does the grape labor to become edible fruit? No. The vine extracts water and nutrients from the soil and nurtures the branch. The branch, attached to the vine, flourishes, and the grape emerges as a product of the vine’s work through the branch.
If we rest in Jesus and allow him to work in us, the result will be fruit that he can use to nourish us and the rest of his body, the church. But we must remain in Jesus. He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Anyone who does not remain in him is “like a branch that is thrown away and withers.” Can a grape grow on a branch that is separate from the vine? Of course not. As followers of Jesus, we all want to grow and be fruitful. We want to delight in his word and live the life he exemplified. We want to use our gifts, talents, and abilities to serve him and to further his kingdom in this world, beginning right here in Waukee, Iowa. We want to be his light in the darkness and to share his love with people who are desperate for it. We want to extend his grace and mercy. We want to partner with him in his mission of forgiveness and restoration. These are all good things. But first, we rest in Jesus.