Blog - Embodying Truth
Branch: A Workplace IdentityWednesday, August 13, 2014
Branch. At first glance, it may seem unlikely that anything in a vineyard could clarify your identity in an office or shop. But Jesus did say to his followers, "You are . . . branches.” Clearly, he thinks it’s important for us to see ourselves that way—not only in church meetings but also when we go to work.
During my growing-up years, I spent many hours on my grandfather’s farm watching him pick grapes and helping him do it. The repetitive handwork permitted plenty of time to think about other things—including the place of branches in the food chain. Consider these three musts if a branch is to fulfill its purpose.
It Stays. Every fruit-bearing branch on grandpa’s farm was firmly embedded in its vine. But any branch, once cut off, produced no fruit. As branches, we need to stay tightly bonded with Jesus, even in the workplace. As he said, we must "remain in” him. Can we do so even when our minds are completely focused on our work? Yes. Our union with Jesus takes place not in the realm of our minds but in that of our spirits: ". . . he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (I Cor. 6:17). Trust God to maintain that union even as you concentrate on making a sale, driving a bus, or sending an email.
It Extends. At the same time as it stays in its vine, the branch reaches into the surrounding area. The vine thrusts the branch out to accomplish its mission. As Jesus put it, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn. 20:21). Banks and other businesses describe local offices as "branches.” As a believer, you are Jesus’ branch, placed where you work to represent him and his Kingdom in that local area. You are putting his fruit where coworkers, customers clients, students, patients, vendors, and others can see and sample it.
It Produces. But a branch must do more than stay in the vine and extend into the space around it. To fulfill its purpose, it must also produce the vine’s fruit. For that very reason Jesus chooses and appoints us (Jn. 15:16). Grapes form as sap from the vine flows into and through the branches. As the Spirit of Christ moves through us, we produce his fruit.
Think of the people where you work—their attitudes, hopes, struggles, worries, grievances, conflicts, relationships, and more. Think of their homes, marriages, and the news from the media that confronts them daily.
Now recall the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Given what they’re facing, do those you work with need to feed on that kind of Shalom-flavored fruit? They should find it within their reach, because you, a branch from the Christ-Vine, work alongside and among them. And as they taste the fruit, some of them will ask you where it came from.
Is it time to branch out where you work?