When I was in the 8th grade, my family started attending a Southern Baptist Church. In Philadelphia we went to a non-denominational church with a lot of structure and tradition, and when we moved to Indiana we found ourselves in a new setting. Every denomination has a strength and Southern Baptists are traditionally excellent at evangelism and getting people in the door. Having grown up in a more discipleship and liturgy oriented setting, it was exciting and intriguing to me. I remember vividly one Thursday night at youth group hearing and misinterpreting the verse: “for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matt 12.33). I was beginning to understand fruit bearing as reproducing: bringing lost people to know Christ. For quite a while I questioned the authenticity of my faith because I could not remember anyone with whom I had shared the Gospel and led to salvation. It was a few years later when I realized that Jesus was speaking not of the work done upon someone else, but the work happening within the believer. This fruit which identifies the believer is the fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
– Gal 5.22
The pendulum cannot fully swing the opposite direction, however. Because when we are transformed and exhibit the fruit of the spirit, we are living Christlike lives and others will consequently be transformed. Thus Jesus can make this radical statement:
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
– Matt 12.30
To be with Jesus is both to grow and deepen in the fruit of the Spirit. And in doing so, we naturally gather unto Christ the harvest of souls.
Do you gather with Jesus?
If we are not gathering, then Jesus says we are scattering. How can that be? One might say, “I’m not out talking badly about Jesus” or “I’m not telling people to not believe”. And while that might very well be the case, if you are in conversation with someone and you have received the gift of faith, the promise and hope of eternal life, abundant life here on the Earth and unsurpassed joy and peace, and you do not bring it up, that person will either consider your faith to be fake or not truly important to you – if he knows about it at all. And he might very well continue on his path of destruction having never heard the story of hope, hardening his heart one step further every day. In that way we scatter. And when our attitudes fail and we dishonor Christ by our actions, in that way we scatter too.
This is true on the micro level within our communities, cities, states and countries, and it is also true on the macro level of the world.
“Every believer is either a goer, a sender, or in sin. Give or go, send or be sent, spend or be spent. A lost and undiscipled world awaits!”
– David Sills
Senders are not off the hook of daily fruit bearing in the Spirit and gathering of souls in the Spiritual harvest at home. But our primary command, our “Great Commission”, or utmost responsibility as the Church is to make disciples of every nation. And while the home church does that in it’s local community, it also does it by sending spokesmen out around the world.
“…for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
– Rom 10.13-15
Beautiful feet are not feet that are well groomed, clean and pretty. Beautiful feet are those that walk the miles, go to the hard places, carry the load and reach the lost. Are you bearing fruit? Are you gathering with Jesus or are you scattering against Him? Are you obeying the primary command of Jesus and serving the lost by making disciples of the world?