One Wine, A Variety of Vessels
(John 15, I Cor. 12-14)
The Lord prompted me to visit the local wine shop which I frequent and know the owner and his staff. I have had wonderful conversations there. On this particular day it was quiet and I surveyed the variety of red wines on the shelves. Quickly, I was receiving a message about the variety of grapes and their earthly sources. The very grapes themselves are all different by a natural heritage. And they hailed from different countries; Germany, Italy, France, South Africa, Argentina, even America (?!). We have all grown in a particular environment, natural and spiritual, as children maturing into adulthood. It gives us a natural identity, the person we are, the vessel through which the Spirit will touch others with the life of Christ. As the wine bottles are different shapes and sizes, so are we as members of His one, glorious body.
As we have written, we are all grapes in His vineyard, and then in His winepress. We are reminded of John the Baptist’s words, His winnowing fork is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His floor. As our brother Graham Cooke often mentions, we are continually in process. Another sister, Elaine Tavalocci, has noted how often we find ourselves in transition. So we are continually processed to be poured out by the Master of the vineyard. He knows which one of us will bring the drink needed. The shepherd used oil and wine for healing of the sheep’s wounds. How often, I have seen Him bring me to someone, or someone to me to provide a help. He knows which one of us, His vessels, with our particular natural identity, and particular gift of His life can meet a specific person’s need.
We have a common identity in Him, yet each of us is unique. And each of us is uniquely loved by Him. Don’t resist the winnowings, the prunings, the pressings. Count it all joy. It is His mighty hand humbling us to be a greater servant than we have been before. As I looked at the bottles of wine, they each had a distinct label, a distinct identity. At different times, we are drawn to different people and ministries. They satisfy a need in us. We need to be careful not to so cleave to some and be critical of others. As the Corinthians were provided an attitude adjustment, away from the I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, or even the super-spiritual, I am of Christ syndrome, we need to recognize the variety among the members of Christ.
I have seen for myself, in striving to be spiritual, I have wanted to ignore the fact that I am human. The perfection He brings us to is a maturity that is a deeper dependence on Him. Jesus said apart from the Father He did nothing. And in the same way, apart from Him, the true vine we can do nothing. We grow as people still carrying this earthly body and real needs, physical, emotional, and otherwise. Some of what we need is supplied by other believers, other members of His body. We grow and mature through our relationships. We cannot deny our parents, yet we must love Him more. We cannot ignore where we were born or our natural heritage, but we pursue heaven’s culture.
I have lately chewed on Jesus’ words to Peter after that man’s confession of Him as the Christ. He said Simon Bar Jonah, Simon son of John. He was saying you, Peter, are of human flesh and blood and God has revealed this to you. Peter did not yet get that level of dependence on God for understanding and learned the lesson through a painful process. He was being pressed, and crushed to become the man who would deliver that message on the day of Pentecost. He was made into the vessel that would pour out great joy with new wine. He himself became the message and the wine. As He, Jesus, is so are we becoming while in this world. That is in one of John’s letters. Go check it out.