Friday, September 1, 2017

The Fruit of the Church

In the Gospel we hear about a vineyard which was lent out by its master to others to manage. When the time came for the master to collect the fruit which they had harvested, they decided they wanted to keep it for themselves. They killed several servants and eventually the Master’s Son. When the Master eventually came, He took the vineyard away from them and gave it to someone else until He returned, again to collect the fruit that was harvested. To avoid any possible confusion, Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” (Matthew 21.43)

We are that nation. The Church established by Jesus Christ and His Apostles have been given the Church, as God’s vineyard, to be stewards of it. We are expected to bear fruit and we will give an account of that fruit when the Lord returns for the harvest. What is the fruit of the Church? As Christ was preparing to return to heaven after His Resurrection He said, “"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28.19-20) The fruit of the Church is disciples.

When a grape vine is first planted it takes time before it is established enough to bear fruit. As the years go by, with proper care from the vinedresser, eventually a great harvest is possible and many can enjoy the abundant crop of sweet, juicy grapes. If the vine is neglected, very few grapes (if any at all) will be present, and they may even whither on the vine before they ripen. In those cases, as with the Gospel story, the vinedressers will be kicked out and a new team given the task of caring for the vineyard.

When it comes to the Church, if we are not producing disciples, then we are not producing fruit. For the Church to produce disciples, we must manage the affairs of the Church so that more people not only discover the Church, but those who are already in the Church become stronger every year. Just as a grape vine has new and established branches, so the Church has new and established disciples. Just as the vinedressers nurtures the established branches, the Church works to strengthen established members. The stronger the established disciples, the more new disciples will be produced, just as with any healthy vine.

Ultimately, the Master will return and He will take an account of the disciples we have produced for His Church. We will have no excuse if when He returns all we have to show is that we kept the fruit for ourselves. 

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