Back to the Garden

by

Bryan Craig

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Genesis 2:8-9

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with my thoughts about Influencers and where God wants to take our ministry and how best to organize our leadership to properly “manage” or “oversee” our needs.  I am a planner, and I come out of the business world, so it was very “natural” for me to consider a typical top-down organizational structure.  God, in His patient, gracious way, let me keep wrestling until I finally got quiet enough to listen to what He had to say about it.

He gently breathed John 15 into me, once again:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

All of the sudden, it became clear.  The Influencers organizational chart looks more like an upside-down chart, starting with our CEO, Jesus, The Vine.  It is His power, His Spirit which fuels this ministry and holds it all together.  Every good thing that has come out of Influencers has sprung out of The Vine.  All our Regions are Branches off The Vine.  All the great fruit of transformed lives, connected to those Branches, is connected back to The Vine.  As we think about expanding this ministry, it will only happen out of The Vine.

Here’s what it looks like:

 

As I have shared this with our leaders, it has resonated.  They, too, see it.

As I have continued to ponder this, God reminded me that this whole world started with a Man in a Garden.  Adam was in the Garden of Eden, and it says that he was allowed to eat of every tree in the garden, except for The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But there was another tree mentioned.  This other tree, The Tree of Life, bore fruit that he was allowed to eat.  Just as Jesus calls Himself The Vine, I believe He was also The Tree of Life.  After all, He says this about Himself:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

So, it all began with Abiding.  Adam had an abiding relationship with Jesus in the Garden of Eden.  There was perfect peace and harmony and amazing Fruit.  This is what God wanted.  Then, as you know, Sin ruined it all.  Sin resulted in God casting Adam out of the Garden, out of Paradise.  Angels were posted on guard, preventing Adam’s return.

But God…

God had a plan.  He sent Jesus to the earth.  The Tree of Life became The Vine for us.  Jesus invited us to become a part of Himself, His Vine.  He invites us back to The Garden.

Once we return to The Garden, He feeds us with Himself, The Tree of Life, and makes us into strong Branches which can bear much fruit.  Then, our life starts growing and expanding and reaching outward, just like a grapevine crawling along a trellis.  Others may see great fruit on our branch, but if they follow it to its Source, they will find The Vine.

All of this is, as Bruce Wilkinson calls it, The Secret of The Vine.  God has SO much for us.  He is inviting us Back to the Garden and into a life of fruitfulness.  We also get to be “assistants to the Vinedresser” as we do work in the gardens to which we’ve been assigned.  We get to help Him tend to the Family Gardens, our Church Gardens, our Neighborhood Gardens, our Work Gardens.

Not only are we Branches in this great Kingdom Grapevine and Assistant Gardeners, but we, too, are being made into trees of Life.  What kind of trees?  Oaks of Righteousness.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
  Isaiah 61:1-3

Welcome back to The Garden!