Productive vs. Fruitful


I used to have a blue collar approach to serving God that looked something like this:

The whistle blows and I crank up the machinery. The gears start turning, the belts begin moving, and it’s not long before my noisy factory is belching smoke.

I’ve got orders to fill.

And filling them is important because these are divine orders. There are heart attitudes I’m supposed to have, character traits I’m supposed to show, good things I’m supposed to do—24/7/365.

OK, sleep is permissible, but once I’m awake, I’m clocked in. The Supervisor is already standing there with His clipboard and red pen. So I had better get to it, and stay with it, because it all depends on me.  I’m the laborer and the machinery—the whole manufacturing operation—and I’ve got to produce.

But within an hour of starting production, I’m already exhausted. I’m also discouraged because there are all kinds of quality control issues with what I’ve been producing.

I’ve spent much of my life serving God that way. But He’s never asked me to.  The truth is that God has never ordered me to manufacture anything.

VINE_&_BRANCHJesus doesn’t speak the language of manufacturing, but of gardening. He doesn’t speak in terms of inanimate machinery, but of something living and growing. Christ doesn’t use the analogy of mechanical production, but of organic fruit-bearing. And He most certainly doesn’t say it’s all up to me. Rather, fruit-bearing is only possible with Him.

What’s my role in the process? I am to remain in continuous, intimate, relational connection with Him—looking to Him, listening to Him, living from His life, participating in what He is doing, working with His divine energy.

I am just beginning to learn how to live with God this way.  I’ve only recently closed my factory, and opened a branch office. That is, I’ve begun relating to Jesus more as a branch connected to the True Vine. You may think I’m nuts, but I’m seeing real fruit.

Sometimes, out of old habit, I’ll wander into the closed factory, turn on the machinery, and produce some defective product before I realize what I’m doing. But the factory approach isn’t the default mode for me anymore.

I’m going organic. How about you?

4 thoughts on “Productive vs. Fruitful

  1. I’ve never considered going organic in quite this way before, Dave.
    This is one of the reasons I enjoy your blog: You put a fresh spin on truths I’ve heard before.

    • I appreciate your response in two ways: 1) I’m thankful for your encouragement and 2) I think you’ve made me aware of one of the reasons I am doing this. If I don’t make a habit of exploring the truth in new ways, I have a tendency to treat it as old news, and I begin to lose contact with it. I’ll have to think some more about that.

  2. I loved the word pictures here, Dave. I constantly need to be reminded that it’s not my job to produce, but rather to let Jesus bear fruit through me. It’s a much more gracious way of living. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

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