“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.
You can’t fix people. Have you discovered this? It is futile to imagine that you can.
We get frustrated with others and want them to change. We want them to get saved, become different, to move into Christlikeness and godliness. We say and do things to try to get them to understand, to change.
We are trying to fix them. We might even think that this is what discipleship or ministry is all about. But we are wrong.
When we try to fix people, we are trying to save them, get them saved. It sounds good and noble. But we were never called to save people.
We are called to love people and let God save them. This is what the vine and the branches analogy from Jesus is about. He is the vine. The vine is the source for the branches.
Branches have the vine on one side and fruit on the other. And branches bear fruit because they are attached to the vine. That fruit is offered to the world and the source of that fruit is the vine.
All that the branch does it produce fruit, by being attached to the vine. The branch does not offer the power to make fruit. The branch only offers the fruit.
When we try to fix people, we are acting like we are the vine. And we further delude ourselves that we can somehow get our vine to influence that person to make good fruit. But we are not the vine and that is not how it works.
We are called to love people and be fruitful. God saves people. Jesus saves. The Spirit of God works to save people.
We share, we love, we forbear, and we stay in the vine. When we leave the vine to try to be the vine, then we cease to bear fruit and become useless.
The fruit of Christ in our lives is mainly to love people. We see every person as lovable and as a person God wants to and can save.
People might not be nice, they might be mean, annoying, or even doing evil. We can most definitely say to them. “that’s not nice”, or, “that is wrong”, or “stop that”. We can say, “what are you doing?” to someone who is doing something wrong. We can stand up for someone being attacked, protect them, or shield them.
These are all good and fine. But in all these, we need to know that we can not fix people. We need to know this so that we do not try to force people to change (be fixed or saved) or we do not melt down internally into despair, because we do not see people change for the better.
We can forbear with rude people or ask them to not do the rudeness. We can forbear with people who are rude with their cars on the road or push ahead and cut in line, in person. Or, we can lovingly say something like, “excuse me”, when someone cuts or we see them steal.
How do you stay in the vine and keep bearing fruit, as you witness someone stealing at a store or cheating? What if a secret sin that someone is doing becomes known to you? How do you respond, or do you respond?
How do you not fix people, not be their savior, but always bear fruit from the one who is the savior? How do you live out the great commission, as a minister, but not fix people?
We are connected to someone. We reflect him. We point to him.
We speak his words, his language. We are filled with the Spirit, who is all about Jesus.
People in our lives, all around us, need Jesus. They need salvation, need to get saved. And we always say or need to say, “I can not save you, but I know who can”.
Meanwhile, here is what we can do. We can give to people. Give them sustenance, clothes, shelter, and help. We might not have any of these, but we give what we have and what we can.
We give people attention. We see them and listen to them. We have to learn to see people and listen to them without trying to or needing to fix them.
Most of the time, we will not understand people. We might think, “how will this person ever get saved?” We’re thinking they are too far gone or too alienated from God or too far into unbelief, deception or rebellion.
Stay in the vine. When we get into despair, at people, we have to hold on tight to Jesus, who can save anyone.
A person who is a ‘mystery’ to you, how they could, can, or will ever get saved; is a ‘my story’ to them, before Christ.
You can not fix people. But He can. We hold onto him, and let him bear his fruit in our lives.
We can and do call upon people to get saved and to come to be saved. But we do it as we hold onto Jesus and bear fruit. We are always showing him off and expressing the reality that he saves and that people can get saved, because they are loved.