The Whole Bunch of Us

There are many different varieties of grapes that can be harvested from the vineyards of Virginia to the Napa Valley. There are American hybrid blue-black grapes, known by such names as Fredonias, Aldens, and Bluebells. Then, there are white grapes known as Edelweiss or Kay Grays, and the beautiful red grapes in such varieties as Delawares, Reliance, and Swenson Reds. There are more grapes, suited to different climates, harvested during different seasons, and used in various ways than could ever be listed on these pages. These delectable clusters come in more varieties than one could imagine. Some are sweet, some sour, some tart, some have seeds and others don’t. But, even though there are many to choose from, it seems like everyone has his or her favorite…mine is green!

God has blessed this earth with welcoming landscapes and panoramic beauty, not the least of which is captivated in the vineyard. But there’s another bunch that He has created that is no less beautiful or diverse…the human race. Just like grapes, we come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. We even tend to cluster. And, some of us are sweet, while others are down right sour. In a vineyard, each branch has its own individual character, growth habit and response to where it is planted. We too have our own ways of acting and reacting; people are different, but God loves us all. He doesn’t favor one over the other.
We live in a huge world, or cluster, that has been made smaller and smaller by technology and air travel. We can be around the world by computer in an instant, and by plane in a matter of hours. Yet, with all that we have gained in proximity, we still don’t have true community-that commonality that bonds us together.
Individuals have been rallied together by the cry to, “Save the Whales!,” by Neighborhood Crimewatch, and by tragedies such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the terrorist attacks of 9-11. And, although we know by accounts in the Bible that singleness of purpose is a very powerful thing, we have yet to see what can be accomplished by true unity in this country.
John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit…” The operative word here is abide. It’s important that we stay connected to the Vine, in order to activate the power of God. We can make a world of difference in our community just by staying connected to Him and hearing and obeying His voice. He is calling us to “Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35) It’s time for us to go out and bring the harvest in.
With any training system in the vineyard, it is important that foliage be exposed to the sunlight for proper growth. With maximum exposure, the grapes grow to ripe, sweet perfection. I found this interesting, since it is essential that people be exposed to the “Son” light too. The Word says that when we lift Him up, all men will be drawn unto Him (John 12:32). That is where you and I come in. We become somewhat of a “training system” to those in our circle of influence, so they can become mature, sweet followers of the Lord.
In My Father’s Vineyard, Wayne Jacobsen encourages us to “cultivate relationships with unbelievers.” When we do this, they will witness the love of Jesus first hand through our kindness toward them. This time of one on one is when the real work is done. Your boss, co-worker, friend, dry cleaner, etc. may never give ear to your pastor, yet will not only give ear, but credence to you, because you’ve shown you care. You have an inroad…you have community with that person. You have listened, you have laughed, you have loved, and you have lived the Word right before their eyes. And, though you may never get to see them receive the gift of salvation, you have planted…or maybe watered, and God will give the increase (I Corinthians 3:6). Jacobsen expressed it beautifully when he wrote that, “Harvest time is ministry time. The fruit of our lives are then invested in others.” Some investments take longer than others to pay off, but God has promised that His Word will not go out and return void (Isaiah 55:11). You can trust Him to pay great dividends!
Let’s scatter some seed in our community and see what God can do. Imagine life in a community bonded together in the Vine. It’s harvest time…and there are no sour grapes here!

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