“…You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?” (Luke 12:56)
They watched the weather for signs of impending danger, but couldn’t recognize the signs that Jesus was giving! We too live in a culture that counts, measures, watches and predicts. But most of the stuff we measure has little enduring value or eternal weight.
We pay more attention to the weekend forecast or the cable sports scoreboard than to God’s instructions for fruitful lives. We know more about trends in the Dow Industrial than we do about the status of unengaged and unreached people groups in world missions.
We measure calories and carbs and yet fill our minds with constant trash from the internet and tv. Jesus would say to us as He did to the religious people in His day:
You obviously know how to analyze and measure things. It’s too bad that you are not analyzing the things that really matter most.
There is a great need for a healthy expectation of fruit-bearing in lives of true Christ-followers. Jesus said that “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit…My Father is glorified by this that you bear much fruit.” (John 15:2,8) The Father and the Son clearly see fruit-bearing as essential in the lives of Christ-followers. It is NOT an optional version of Christianity.
But what does this fruit look like? And how much should reasonably be expected? And what do we need to change if we’re not seeing fruit? These are the questions that those of us who are serious about following Christ must continually be grappling with.
One of the big errors of ineffective churches and insecure believers is to think that “grace” means we should drop our expectations of growth and maturity (in ourselves and others) and have no real accountability – and certainly no ongoing assessments.
But in reality, the grace of God in the gospel should raise our expectations for fruit-bearing. And though the Christian life is definitely not a predictable science, yet there are some realities and constants that we can be assured of.
“Our lives and ministries are perfectly designed to achieve the results we are currently experiencing.”
It is foolish to think we can keep living the way we are living and doing the things we are doing and suddenly get significantly different results.
For change to happen, change must happen!
In the next couple of posts we will talk about creating a healthy culture of assessment. Stay tuned.