Jesus said an unsettling thing in the 16th chapter of Luke. He was telling the story of the dishonest steward whose chicanery had been discovered. Knowing that he was about to be dismissed, he went around to his master's customers and cut favourable deals, thereby ensuring their favour and support for himself for the future. Jesus concluded:
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Said another way, the time taken to come to understand God is time not dedicated to engineering, stocks and bonds, manufacture, disease research or empire building. We as children of light and as members of the True Vine have been given other priorities and assignments. (That is not to say we should not fulfil some worthy task or vocation. But fruitfulness comes first.)
Now consider the image presented in the 15th chapter of Ezekiel. Israel is compared to a vine (see also Isaiah 5 and Hosea 10), and as such, it had better be about the business of fruit-bearing:
2Son of man, what is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?
3Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?
4Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?
5Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?
6Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
The fruits of righteousness are our major contribution to community. Deeds of mercy and comfort; attitudes of equity; words of hope. We are the conscience. We are the foil. Causing others to stop, check their paths, look upward.
13Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Not so naive after all.