Sunday 4 October 2020

A farm is a business, and it must make enough to pay the workers and feed the farmer. If the vines or orchard no longer make money, they are ripped up. The vines and trees last as long as they produce. If access to irrigation goes, the vineyard will die.

We are in this world to do good and bear witness to the gospel of Christ. We are not here to score brownie points and get credentials. Our career matters less than our love of God. The old divines knew this.

Collect One

Lord, we pray thee
that thy grace may always prevent and follow us,
and make us continually to be given to all good works;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are not saved by our works, but instead our works flow from faith. I now do small things that I honestly don’t care about — this brand of tea over that one, for instance, because they make Kea happy. Because I care for her. If we do this for our spouses, should we not do this for our creator, our Lord, and our saviour?

But all do often I do not.

Isaiah 5:1-7

5 Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
2 He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.

3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
4 “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5 “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6 “I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

Philippians 3:4-14

4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 [e]in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that [g]for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The reality is that in this time one needs a certain level of credentials to get an entry level job. This is designed so you get student loans: in NZ, where they are interest free there is some sense of fairness, but it is designed to get you trapped in debt.

But they then don’t mean much. You cannot be effective in any work on credentials alone.

Why should we then consider, as many churches do, that you can gain the love of God from academic study? I am not arguing against theology and clarity of thinking, but compared with a lived experiences of the depth and breath and height of hte love of God, and the pain he suffered for my salvation, the textbooks are akin to the notes of a man intoxicated he then deletes.

Look for a life already in service and righteousness for time when selecting elders. Not credentials. We do not trust in the flesh but in the spirit of a living God.