Rural Minnesota is scattered with irrigation pivots. My Step-dad was a dealer in irrigation pivots and installed them all over his farm. The center of the pivot is the well that supplies water to the pivot arm which showers water in a full circle around the field. From the air the sphere fed by the water from the center pivot is green and flourishing even in times of drought. The arm is connected to the Pivot and without the pivot there is no water supply for the crop.
Jesus is the center pivot of our faith. In the bible, the gospel of John (John 15) reveals a similar analogy. Jesus calls himself the vine and we are the branches. And when the vine remains attached to the branch, the branch flourishs and bears fruit.
Growing up evangelical we always thought about fruit as saving souls. Perhaps in some way it is about effectivness in ministry but it is also about a way of life characterized by the goodness of God. Paul in his book to the Galatians (5) writes about the fruit of the Spirit being character qualities that reflect the nature of God... love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, endurance, faithfulness. They are the qualities of God that Jesus displayed in his life while on the earth. And we are back to Jesus.
This morning while working out I listened to the news and heard about the religious dissension in the Middle East, the BP Oil Spill, the dissension in the US over the mosque. Reading my favorite blogs, I read about the quarrels in Christianity and among evangelicals. I am bothered because it does not seem very Jesus like. And I just felt tired, weary of all the laborous discussion about religion and politics and who's in and who's out and who's doing it right and is Obama a Christian or a muslim.
And I think if Jesus were really speaking he might call us religious people on the carpet for focusing all of our attention outside of ourselves on to others and what they are doing. He might ask us to notice if we are living in the Jesus way. He might invite us to examine our own hearts to see if we have any fruit to show. I think that is why he is always challenging the religious people in the Bible.
I have come to think that faith is so much less about correct belief and theology and so much more about union with Christ. If I could preach the gospel I would preach it in such a way that Jesus was the center pivot of it all.
I would say... we humans blew it and failed to image God in the earth. God entered as an infant and Jesus came. Jesus lived in union with God's heart and revealed his character and love to us. He kept the law as God really wanted it kept... not as rules but as a way of being that was healing to the world. And on the cross, Jesus experienced the worst of human evil in his own body. He took all the sin of humanity into himself and he died from the wounds. Then God raised him from the dead and healed all in the physical body of Jesus. Jesus is the new human fully imaging God in the earth. Then Jesus ascended to heaven and poured out his Spirit on all people and they received his Spirit at Pentecost. Now there is a new union with Jesus, and like the vine and the branch the healing flows from Jesus to those who are united with him. By that new union, we are healed, being healed and will be healed--we are saved, being saved and will be saved.
That changes how we live in our world. As healing people in union with a healing God we are invited to be part of his healing the earth and imaging God in it.
Jesus is the center pivot and salvation flows from him. Big thoughts.