I work for a company of consultants and one of the tasks I have been given is to come up with a way of handling knowledge. In my research I came across this paper. Its a typical Ph. D. paper with loads of big words, months of research and lots of references. But basically it says you can’t separate knowledge out from the knower or the seeker and make it useful for anyone who is a senior consultant (mature if you like). The senior consultant will always need to talk to the knowledge originator to get the things (help, implicit knowledge, advice, experience, contacts, etc.) that only a conversation or interaction with the person will provide. The extracted knowledge only has limited use and that only for those who are inexperienced or new to the company. Likewise reading the Bible on its own without meeting its author is of limited use and can be quite frustrating.
Here is an offbeat observation of real life imitating Scripture at a physical level: Lactose intolerance is standard as people mature unless it is removed by adverse conditions. In Northern Europe over many generations the gene that normally activates lactose intolerance was removed by natural selection due to the dependence on cow’s milk in the colder climates. Hence the fact that all major races except Caucasians (and some East Africans) are lactose intolerant after breastfeeding age. So it is natural to mature beyond milk at least in the physical. Is the western dependence on spiritual milk among Christians with years of a Christian walk likewise evolved and unnatural?
We only have two fruit trees in our garden. We have had both of them for going on four years now. Neither I nor my wife would consider ourselves horticultural experts. Indeed about the only things I know about looking after fruit trees I learnt from reading passages in the bible. Particularly John 15.
So inspired by John 15 I took my secateurs (just like in the picture) and set to.
I first went looking for fruit. One of our trees is a pear tree and it has never borne us any fruit. I don’t blame it really, it was supposed to be pruned and trained along the wall. Nevertheless this year it is showing some signs of fruit on one branch. Maybe I was wrong but I didn’t have the heart to prune it much since it seems quite weak. I thought it might find the shock of severe pruning too much and die on me. But I did get rid of some new growth.
The other tree is some kind of edible cherry – a damson but yellow. It produced its first small crop a couple of years ago and last year it produced a much bigger crop. This year it is looking promising, plenty of signs of fruit on many of the branches. So I thought – strong tree – fruit on many branches – I’ll remove the branches that are not bearing fruit and prune the ones that are a la John 15.
The fruit is quite green at this stage and easy to miss among the green leaves so I was careful to make sure there was no fruit before I removed a branch. I noticed that if a bough was not fruitful (c.f. Genesis 49:22) then neither were any of the branches on it. If a bough was fruitful then several – though not all – of the branches on it had fruit. The tree was not large and neither were the boughs so I removed one particularly dead looking one and all its branches went with it – not one fruit on any of them.
I also noticed a branch that had had fruit but the fruit had, even at this early stage, been eaten or removed by birds or something. I reluctantly removed that branch too. At this stage it is too late in the season to presume it will bear fruit again.
When it came to pruning the fruitful branches I was quite thorough. I didn’t want the goodness of the tree to be wasted producing only leaves so I removed new unfruitful growths and twigs.
I’ve been long enough around the Christian scene at this stage to have seen in churches the things I saw today pruning the fruit trees. If a stream or denomination is unfruitful all that it grows is ultimately unfruitful and will end up being removed from the life giving tree. It may lie dead on the ground for some time but eventually it is gathered by men into (building) piles and burnt. So often only the shell remains.
I’ve also seen churches that were once fruitful but now no longer are. They can show you the remnants of the fruit but the destroyer was let in and they also are unfruitful.
The work of the vinedresser can be sudden and traumatic. At the right time, when the fruit is showing itself, then what is happening in the tree can be seen and it is time for the Father to act. It isn’t easy when He does.
I believe that this is such a time in Ireland.
“In the beginning was the Word….”
So starts the sublimest of the Scriptures. For me there is no greater writing than the Apostle John’s in all of the Scriptures. In this Gospel he explains the deepest of truths in the simplest of terms.
The first 12 chapters of John’s gospel consists of a series of vignettes and cameo appearances. Every chapter contains one or two. There is the calling of the disciples, John the Baptist’s declaration, the wedding feast at Cana, Nicodemus coming at night to see Jesus, the woman at the well, the centurion’s servant, the invalid at Bethesda, the feeding of the five thousand, the great day of the feast, the woman caught in adultery, the man born blind, the parable of the Good Shepherd, Lazarus rising from the dead and his two sisters different reactions. Then there is the wonderful teaching passages of chapters 13 -16, washing the disciple’s feet, behold I go to prepare a place for you, the True Vine and the Comforter. The prayer of chapter 17. The crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of chapters 18 – 21.
In all the Gospel of John it is Jesus that we see in ways He cannot be seen anywhere else in Scripture. There is an intimacy and level of detail about this Gospel that is not found anywhere else. Jesus’ response to people and events is brought out in all sorts of ways, wonderfully expressed. For example, Jesus supplied abundance at the wedding feast of Cana, taught Nicodemus spiritual truths in depth, gently elicited the truth from the woman at the well, explained a blindness to the disciples, wept at the difficulties death had brought to people’s lives.
Jesus is declared to be wonderful things in this gospel: the Word of God, the Bread of Life, the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
This gospel is wonderful because of its main character purely and wonderfully expressed in its pages – Jesus.