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One of my very favourite pleasures in this world is the taste of a peeled, sliced, and slightly sugared bowl of Okanagan peaches at their peak season.   What could be more refreshing and delicious? 

Have you ever had that disappointing experience of bringing home a small box of peaches that looked really good in the produce section of your local grocery store, only to discover when you cut into them that they are pithy, hard, and lacking any pow for your taste buds?  Looks can be deceiving. We judge good fruit by its taste, texture, and juiciness.  Good fruit not only looks good, it tastes good too. 

I have been thinking about this for the past month.  I've been pondering what it really means to be a church dedicated to creating a discipleship culture, where the fruit of our community looks and tastes like the goodness of Jesus.  It seems to me that when we talk about discipleship in faith communities we are quick to move our discussion toward programs or processes that will shape our thinking, inform our actions, and challenge our choices.  All  of this is helpful and worthy, but invites our further consideration as to whether it really helps our lives taste good, or just look good. Remember, looks can be deceiving. 

An old adage reminds us that just because someone spends a lot of time around airports doesn't mean they actually travel anywhere. Cummulative time spent at the airport may not be a good metric to help us discern if they are a world traveller.  They may just be an airport security guard. 

When we think about the fruitfulness in our faith community, we want to make sure we are measuring more than just time spent around the church building, attendance on Sunday morning, or the completion of training and study programs.  Effective disicpleship will leave us not only looking like good fruit, it will have us tasting good too.  

So what does a disciple of Jesus taste like?  We will need to think on this in order for us to develop a craving for an authentically transformed life.  

I desire for VAC to become a church with a craving for a discipleship culture centered on Jesus. Can you imagine it with me?

  • We will experience the love of Jesus in increasing measure as it is shared and offered one to another. Graciousness marks our interactions, and shapes the way we share our stories. 
  • We see and taste joy in and out of seasons of ease.  Our gratitude is not easily quenched, but rather gently bubbles up continually and genuinely.
  • We experience peace, and offer it to those around us, in a way that demands an explanation beyond any human understanding.  Peace is always with us, in the same way we understand Jesus is with us. 
  • We will be patient.  We wait for those who need more time to understand.  We hold space for those who grieve.  We will slow our pace to be in step with the Holy Spirit's gait.  We patiently take rest in a manner that is notably counter-cultural. 
  • We will imitate Jesus as we value and live out extraordinary kindness, honoring each one we encounter with the respect and care due to any and all image-bearers of God. 
  • Disciples of Jesus will not only model gentleness in their relationships, but in their hearts they will hold ideas, thoughts, and musings with a gentleness that moulds the way they come into fruition.
  • Goodness is the standard in a discipleship culture.  That which is good cannot be improved upon - it is rare and precious, and known when it is present through and through. 
  • Disciples embody faithfulness in ways that reflect not only upon themselves, but also affect and nurture the community in which they are growing.  There is a mutuality that is honoured, praciticed, and encouraged with perseverence and grit. 
  • In a discipleship culuture "self" gives way to "other."   There are many places one will embrace a personal limitation in order to set another free.  

As a faith community desiring to center Jesus,  our expectation is that as we are drawn toward intimacy with Jesus, we will in greater measure encounter both the outward nature of His identity and also the internal heart flavour of His nature.  This is core  to a discipleship culture.  My prayer for us all is that we will develop a taste for this good fruit grown in a Jesus-centered community, and let our lives, empowered by the Spirit, be known to taste as good as they look. 

 Can you see it? 

Can you taste it?

May it be good.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. - Galatians 5:22 - 23 (CEB)