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A WORD FOR TODAY, July 15, 2021
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.” John 15:1-7, WEB
John Wesley’s nephew entered the Roman Catholic Church. Wesley was grieved, but he did not rebuke him. He wished him well. “You can be saved in any Church and you can be damned in any Church. What matters is, How is your heart with Christ?” Wesley was known for greeting people, “Is your heart as my heart? Then give me your hand.” While John Wesley was firm in his theology, he also understood that the point is not being part of the “right” church, but being right with Jesus Christ.
There are many who will completely reject people who belong to a church that do not have the same understanding of theology, even to the point of questioning their Christianity. I must confess that I have passed the same judgment at times, and quite frankly there are some organizations that claim to be Christian that have lost their connection to Jesus Christ because they are walking the wrong path. There have been people who have suggested the same of me because I don’t belong the same church as them. I like Wesley’s point of view on this, however, because it is true that what matters is whether or not our hearts are with Jesus Christ.
Christianity is about community, but it is also about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to be in fellowship with people who will help us grow in our faith and live in obedience to God’s Word. We need to gather in worship with other Christians who will keep us accountable and who will encourage us to walk the right path. We also need to walk the Christian journey individually, spending time in prayer and the scriptures, finding our place in God’s kingdom. There may be reason for us to question the theology of a church, but we can trust that God can use even the faultiest institutions to touch a person’s heart. We have to remember the other part of Wesley’s comment, too. It is possible to lose faith in the “right” church.
They key, according to Wesley and Jesus Christ, is to be connected to the true vine. Jesus says that He is the vine and we are His branches. In a vineyard it is hard to discern which branches come from which trunk, as they weave together over the years. We grow together as we share our life of faith in the vineyard. However, we will not live or produce fruit if we are cut away from the vine. We are called into fellowship with Christ and with one another, working together to share God’s kingdom with the world. This can happen anywhere despite our doubts because God is able to do great things despite our flaws. We may be called to share a word to help others to see more clearly God’s truth, but we should never suggest that a person is not a Christian based on which church to which they belong. God can transform any heart to be faithful and obedient to Him as long as we are connected to Jesus Christ, the true vine.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org.