Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Where's the Fruit?

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Where is your proof?

Disciples don't get club cards for their key chains. They don't have T-shirts with "Fishers of Men" logos. They don't get special name tags or wrist bands. So how are we known? What evidence do we have?

It turns out Jesus did give us a calling card. He said it so plainly we easily miss it. The proof is in the fruit.

 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 
John 15:8 NASB

Let's be clear, fruit is not a requirement for salvation, but it IS evidence of discipleship. 


Because according to John 15 (and like a bazillion other verses) if I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God lives in me. The very God who created the universe cannot dwell in a living human being without leaving traces of His presence. Those traces of His presence are called "fruit." 

Sometimes fruit manifests itself through our character:
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control; against such things there is no law. 
Galatians 5:22-23
And sometimes the fruit manifests itself through our actions:
For this reason also, since the day we heard of itwe have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God...
Colossians 1:9-10

But the point is, there is fruit. Or there should be. And if there isn't fruit, we should be alarmed.

And maybe we are. But what is our response?

I think that I go into problem solving mode. I read books and go to conferences and scour the web to find Five Quick Fixes for Fruitlessness or Seven Easy Steps to See More Fruit. These "helpful" resources often talk about things that we think we can do to in order to produce fruit in our lives, to prove that we are true disciples. They tell us how to improve bad soil, how to protect ourselves against lousy weather, or how to deal with pest problems. I roll up my sleeves and get to work, missing one very  important point: IT'S NOT MY JOB TO PRODUCE THE FRUIT. 

I'm only called to bear the fruit!  

God produces the fruit. And everything I need in order to bear fruit comes from the vine. If I'm connected to the vine, I WILL bear fruit. If I'm connected to the vine, I can't NOT bear fruit. So I can't blame the soil, the weather, or the bugs. The only reason Jesus gives for fruitlessness is disonnectedness. Therefore the only solution is to abide in Christ.

 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 
John 15:5

But me? I would rather be pulling weeds or spraying fertilizer. These things are so much easier to do than just abide.

Why? Because "abiding" is never done. I can never check it off of my checklist, because it has to be lived 24/7/365. We can't achieve it, we can't obtain it, we can't complete it. We can only live it. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. 

In fact, if I'm not bearing fruit, it is likely because I'm busy doing things that I think will produce fruit and forgetting to abide in Christ. I get impatient with the process, and like a kindergartener who buried a bean in paper cup full of soil, I grow weary with the waiting. 

It's important to pay attention to fruit. Not just to prove we are disciples, but to know if we are abiding. The funny thing is, I'm not sure I even know what it looks like and feels like to abide. I'm better at being busy. I'm learning to abide. I have a long way to go, but here are three ways that I attempt to "abide in Christ" each day. 

  1. Silence: I begin every day with 10-20 minutes of silence. I sit still, in the presence of God, and I say nothing. I let my swirling thoughts quiet down, and I wait on the Lord. I don't read anything, I don't have music on, I don't pray, I don't write. I just listen. And whether God speaks or not is less important than the fact that I have spent time with Him. Abiding in very literal sense. 
  2. Community: I take time to pray with others. Together, we abide in Christ by reading His word, singing His praises, confessing our sins, and seeking His guidance. For some reason, I used to see abiding as a solitary endeavor, but clearly if we are to do it all the time, then we need to be able to abide in community as well. 
  3. Slowing: I'm active and decisive. I like to go fast. In so doing, I often rush ahead of the Spirit, trying to produce fruit. For some of you, you will need to pick up the pace to keep in step with the Spirit. Me? I need to slow down. When I purposefully match my steps to His, then in all that I do, I abide.
All of these are hard for me. And all of these are good for me. And the promise is sure: IF I abide, the fruit is guaranteed. If I abide I can't NOT bear fruit.  And when I bear it, it is so completely holy, so perfect, so pure, that it proves that God lives in me. 

Then I know I'm a disciple.

What fruit are you bearing these days? How do you abide in Christ?  

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you! I like the 5 steps to awesomeness - but it's not realistic. Thanks for the post! Love yah!