You’ll Know by the Fruit
Jesus’ way isn’t to beat people into submission. Jesus’ way is, “Come, I’ll make you fishers of men.” His way wasn’t, “Come, I’ll give you sermons.” There’s really not one sermon that he gave. The “sermon on the mount” wasn’t even a sermon if you read it. It would’ve been the worst one you’ve ever heard because it was so broken up and disjointed. He kept changing topics, and He didn’t tell any jokes or funny stories. He didn’t give any illustrations such as, “Once there was a poor little girl from Berlin…” or, “Once there was a tree…” Everything He said was right to the point but it wasn’t a very good “sermon,” hermeneutically speaking. It was terrible. He didn’t even quote very many scriptures. “Where are all the scriptures, Jesus? Why didn’t You quote scriptures in the only sermon You ever gave in Your whole life?”
But what He did do was He looked into their hearts. He probed deeply into things that were most important. What He mostly did was, “the Life became the light of men.” He was not a walking “sermon-giver” who gave sermons once a day, once a week or even once a month. What He did do was as a master craftsman does with his apprentice. He held their hand and walked them through life. What His disciples eventually experienced was very, very full and free because He turned over the car keys.
That is what will break down the denominational lines and melt the distinctions. Then we can grow into an understanding of why we’re both right. It’s not that I need to start a new denomination because I’m right and you’re wrong. Or I need to get thrown out because you’re right and I’m wrong. Maybe we’re both right, yet we never approached the problem correctly to see why that’s true. It is actually the case with most denominations that something they have to say is Real, but because we don’t know how to build, their hold on that one truth separates us. Instead of makes us all stronger, it makes us all weaker.
That’s why I’ve said twice as much in this car as I’ve said publicly in my city in the last month. It’s because my gift mostly has to do with building doorways instead of walls in the Body of Christ, internationally and from city to city. It has to do with the things that involve seeing the blueprint and seeing how the different parts work together. It has to do with how the different traits work together locally and extra-locally between bodies of believers in various cities.
That’s what God has put in front of my eyes to see and try to describe. So, I help other people learn to “drive the car,” and then I get out of the way. A lot of people are “driving cars,” and I don’t need to drive for them. I very seldom need to reach over and touch the wheel. Occasionally I’ll help someone understand the difference between humility and fear so they can come past fear and still be humble and be able to explore their gift. I don’t do that as well or as much as I should, but that’s why I’m less visible by far in some settings.
In a common setting of believers, I’m not very visible. I never start a meeting and I very well may not even be there at all. No one cares. They might miss me because they love me, but whether I’m there or not doesn’t have anything to do with whether the meeting is going to be a good meeting or not. And if I am there, they don’t expect me to do anything. It doesn’t matter that I’m not there, other than they love me.
So, plenty of other people are also learning to drive carefully. Yet no one would say they are very good at driving a car either. They don’t wear capes and goggles and fly through the air. They don’t have superpowers, and we don’t have a bunch of Stephens around.
Stephen, in Acts 7 and 8, was able to stand against the wisdom of the great Jewish leaders of his day. It said they could not stand against the wisdom by which he spoke. They did not want to believe what he had to say, so they put their fingers in their ears and threw dust in the air. They couldn’t dispute what he was saying because it was Real. He heard the Spirit and spoke the Spirit’s words, and all they could do to keep him quiet was to kill him. He was right, and they couldn’t prove him wrong, so they had to kill him. That was all they had left.
So we may not have a lot of “Super Stephens,” in the sense that we’re this blending of people that all know God so perfectly and could stand against the Sanhedrin. Stephen was a very special man not only in Jerusalem but also in history. They had 15-20,000 people, and they chose only seven men from among them who were full of the Holy Ghost and full of wisdom. Out of 15,000 people, Stephen was one of the best out of the few chosen. He was a very, very good man and he got stronger. From Acts 6 to 7 you see him still growing. That’s because the more we know God’s ways and learn to walk in His Spirit in terms of daily building and leadership—the more we get out of His way—the more He can express Himself with power. So it’s not a statement of, “Oh, how wonderful,” but rather, “I want to work harder than all the rest.” I can always try to do that much. Paul said, “I may not be equal to others, but I can at least try to work harder than they do even if I’m not as good as they are. I can at least try to do that.”
Back to the building things. I do think that the evidence internationally as well as locally has been that God has let me see something of the blueprint. I can see something of how all of the gifts, whatever they are, work together. All of the good men and women with the love and the character of Jesus can use the same principles of organic life and walking in the Spirit with their antennas up. Twenty years ago we talked about learning how to walk in the Spirit of God. If those two principles of organic life and walking in the Spirit are carried and applied on the level of leadership, then leadership will actually be enhanced. Applying those principles doesn’t remove leadership, but actually enhances leadership in a very risky way.
Yes, those things make leadership even better. It doesn’t remove leadership, but makes it even more effective. That’s the architecture.
I think what you said is that it’s what you are and what God has made you to be.
When a grapevine is very small I suspect it looks like other plants. When a plant is still a seedling or a sapling, a grapevine and an apple tree might look similar to each other. So how do you know which one it is? Well, you know by the seed that was sown. But what if you don’t know what kind of seed was sown? The other way you know is by fertilizing it and watering it, and then when it grows up, you see what kind of fruit is produced.
So how do you know an apostle? If they go around carrying themselves as if they are one and claiming to be one—that’s one strike against them, not for them. So how do you know one? It’s by the fruit. If it is, it is. If it’s an apple, then that doesn’t make it better than a grapevine. An apple tree bears apples because it’s an apple tree genetically. That’s its gift. If it’s a healthy apple tree it will bear healthy apples and then it will reproduce after its kind. And that’s the seed thing all the way back in Genesis 2 and 3. It’s the seed thing.