By: Uzodinma Cosmas.
Grapefruits, juices and wines are among the most delightsome consumptions of mankind. These delicacies are the products of the world’s vineyards. Grapes farming, or vineyards dates up to 5000 BC. It is the most precious agricultural endowment of the ancient time and a very prominent allegory in the Bible. As gold was the king of the minerals so was grape the king of all the crops.
Christ in his teachings, drew many analogies with vineyards and wine. In John 15:1-2, Christ likened Himself to the true vine. While his Father is the Vinedresser who prunes every branch that bears good fruits, that it may bear more. The unfruitful branches are also taken out and cast away. Vineyards are delicately cultivated and nurtured. How fruitful they might be could depend on effective and skilful pruning as grapes grow on well-managed branches. A healthy vineyard could remain productive for an upward of 30 years. The result of a well-managed Church is the same. It endures.
The Lord likened Himself to the true Vine while His Father is the Vinedresser. This also is reinforced in the verse described by management experts as the Matthew Effect. “For to everyone who has, more would be given and he will have in abundance; but from him who does not have even what he has would be taken away” (Matt 25:29).
It is important that we all, both as pastors and the flock understand the purpose of the Church. The life we live as believers mirrors the life of the vine. Blessed with a great Church and a great pastor, believers would be fruitful, productive and impactful. They would go ahead to be blessings to their community and humanity.
The early Church worked as the vineyard and thus laid the foundation of European greatness. Even though Europe is forgetting the finger that fed it, they would surely remember this their past and return to the Lord.
The nature of the Church inspired so much creativity then. Scientists like Copernicus was a priest. Michael Faraday was a very faithful member of his church and one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. He discovered the law of electromagnetic induction which laid the foundation for the electricity we have today.
The Wright Brothers who invented the aeroplane were two sons of a protestant Bishop. They worked in the day and distributed tracks and Christian newspapers in the evenings. Robert Malthus, the great philosopher who gave the first treatise on hunger and population growth was an ordained minister. In the same vein many books we have today were translated or transcribed in the great monasteries of Europe.
Many monks wrote books on Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Gregor Mendel, the father of genetic science was an abbot. So many great composers were faithful believers. Handel, Bach, Beethoven etc. I could go on and on, but time will fail me. I however intend to address that further in a series I would title “How early believers changed their world.”
Painfully though, the Church has not been able to do for Africa what it did for Europe. Some however think that the nature of the church in Africa is a matter of time. That it is part of the growing pangs. The Church is relatively young under 200 years. It would surely learn the ropes like a growing vine and attain maturity.
The cultivation and maintenance of vineyards entail great sacrifices. You have to have the knowledge of the timing, seasons, geography and management. Church administration entails a great deal of knowledge and sacrifice and when you have done all that is required of you, the returns are always great. For “He who continually goes forth weeping bearing seed for sowing shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him” Ps 126:6.
The tastes of grape are varied; from sweet, sour, bitter to bittersweet. All the different tastes have their place in the human palate. Even so, all believers have various shades of personality. According to Medicines News Today, an online newsletter, the polyphenols in grapes, such as resveratrol, are thought to have antioxidant, lipid-lowering, and anti-inflammatory actions that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).” Just as Christ could heal, thus grapes have medicinal values.
Long before the invention of money, vineyards and wines also served as a store of values and a means of exchange. Till date it has remained a money spinner and has engaged the passion of such wealthy families as the Rothschilds and the Ruperts. Many western billionaires have stakes in many vineyards and wineries across the world. Thus the church is the richest poll of human and materials resources in any society.
Viticulture provides an extensive industry: employing security men, tillers, ploughmen, vinedressers, millers, packagers and marketers. Even so does the Church of God require people of varied talents, gifts and callings. In the same manner, the Church is a functional, productive, service oriented body of people with Christ as head and the Ministers as chief stewards. The main duty of the pastor as the chief steward is to create an atmosphere for believers to sow love and to reap same.
Christian love is thus manifested in members as they invest their creative energies and talents for the common good and also benefit from the creative energies of others. That is the purpose of the church. Not a place of entertainment. A minister is successful to the extent he is able to manage the vineyard for the production of Christion values.
The concept of stewardships could be traced to the viticulture. They were likened to vinedressers as in The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers, in Luke 20:1-16. In the past it was a common practice for merchants to buy portions (vignettes) in a large acreage of vine fields and hand them over to stewards to manage, secure, nurture, harvest, process, market and make returns to the husbandman. Even so as pastors and Christian leaders we are the stewards while God is the Husbandman to whom we must make returns.
Unfortunately, many people come to church with no seeds to sow but come for the benefits only. Consequently, the Church today is filled with “Spiritual Yahoo-Yahoo boys” in both the ranks of the leadership and followership. Usually they leave the church frustrated and you find them among the rank of those who have become the most vocal critics of the Church.
But what did God say, “God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sows that he shall reap” Gal. 6:7. Within the vine field a wide range of talents are required. They become the seed or the value you bring to the vineyard. We are called to be profitable stewards of the manifold blessings of God in us, such as our time, talents and treasures. We must not be weary in doing well, for we shall reap in due season, if we faint not.
As ornamental plants vineyards come in an array of colours: white, green and burgundy. In the same vein, the Church like the vineyards is blessed with a colourful array of humanity – Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas, Fulanis, Angas, Efiks, Kanuris, whites, blacks and colour folks. There is no human organization that has been as dynamic as the church in blending people from various backgrounds into one. Though we are many we are one body (I Cor. 12:20).
As grapes also have many medicinal values the church too has a role to play in the mental and physical wellbeing of its members. When any is sick, call the elders, anoint him with oil (James 5:14).
The Church is culture and it is life. It is the earthly expression of our spiritual expectation. Do not let anyone deceive you and cause you to fall for your secure position. If you have been out, it is time to come back. If you want to be join the household of God let us know. (Inbox me and God would be bless you richly)
Have a blessed Sunday.
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