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March 20, 2024

Dear Church of the Open Bible,

At our Annual General Meeting last week I shared how my son, Gus, wants to gain weight. He wants to grow. Now, that’s not a shocking request for an eleven-year-old boy. But Gus wants to gain at least ten pounds because then he can finally ride in the front passenger seat of our vehicles. That might seem like a strange reason but for someone often squished in the back, between siblings and suitcases, it makes sense. And the obvious solution is for Gus to eat more sour cream.

As a church this past year, we have been encouraged by growth and anticipate more. We want to grow. There are new faces every Sunday. There are new opportunities to meet needs and show compassion in our community. We are close to breaking ground for our sanctuary expansion. We want to grow. But our desire to grow is not for fame or the comfort of being in the front seat. Our desire to grow is a desire to bear fruit; the fruit of the gospel by making disciples of Jesus Christ. And while sour cream is great, that’s not the solution to bring about this type of growth. 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:5

Bearing fruit requires abiding in Christ. Three simple words. Jesus wants us to know that continued dependence on Him is essential for us to bear fruit. It’s necessary, “...for apart from me you can do nothing.” We can do all sorts of things apart from Jesus. We can keep greeting new people. We can keep handing out meals. We can keep adding to our building. But apart from depending on Jesus and the life He brings through these things as the true Vine, none of it will last. Nothing. So what does abiding in Him, look like for us? In the following verses, Jesus shows us that this dependence looks like obedience to His words and faithfulness in prayer. 

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. - John 15:7 

As I did last Thursday, let me challenge us to pray, and pray earnestly. There is no point in growing, if it is not in Christ. So let us commit to pray earnestly this season and to pray earnestly for two types of fruit. Firstly, let us pray for the fruit of transferred lives. People transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Son. And secondly, let us pray for the fruit of transformed lives. People transformed more and more into the image of the Son. This is the fruit we depend on the Lord for. And it’s the only growth that will last: transferred and transformed lives.