What is the meaning of life? Fruit!
Before you think we’ve fallen off our rocker, have low blood sugar or gotten hungry, keep reading.
A question very worthy of consideration in the 21st century is this: Does believing in God, being a Christian, attending church, praying, studying the Bible etc. actually make a difference in someone’s life? Does it make someone a better person? A happier person? Does it make the lives around you better or worse? Is spending quite a few hours each week in religious exercises, devotion and activities worth the investment? Is church more about information or transformation?
If someone does not become more loving and lovable, more kind, more at peace, more patient, more temperate by engaging in the ‘Christian’ life, then we would say it is NOT worth it. If one is going through all the motions and emotions of faith and yet is not enjoying life more and making the lives of those around them more enjoyable, then we would agree that is NOT something to continue doing.
If exercise did not have any good benefits, why would we do it? After all, it causes us to sweat, to be sore, to be out of breath, to smell…different :) but exercise brings better health and thus we do it.
The same should be said for the walk of faith. If it does not make life better, what’s the point?!
We believe the story of Scripture reveals the meaning of life - Fruit.
It’s a story about two ideas, two principles, two forces battling for the allegiance and devotion of mankind.
The one we call bad fruit, evil, the Devil, envy, selfishness, insatiable, the lie. It brings into our lives things like:
Cheating, hatred, anger, strife, lies, deception, murder, violence, addiction and gluttony
The other, we call good fruit, God, love, unselfishness, satisfied, the truth. What does it look like in your home? in your workplace? Like any good relationship this path includes things we like and enjoy. Do these sound like something you want your life to be filled with? How about in the lives of those around you?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
We believe life is at its best when we practice these and experience them in all of our relationships.
So how do we get from wherever we are now to loving life more, being more patient, being more kind, having more self-control?
IF there is a way without divine intervention then we would have no need for divine intervention! We would see a village, community, city, state or country living by these principles and never having anything bad happen. But sadly we don’t see that.
BUT there is good news. Like any good story, once you read, listen or watch the whole thing, everything makes sense. Unfortunately for many of us, we’ve heard or read portions of the story but for some reason it never really made sense.
Here it is in a nutshell. The family of heaven split over a contention of these issues. The family of eden, split over these principles. Families today will sync or split over these dueling principles.
Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” -John 10:10
More than any other object lesson used to describe the walk of faith, Jesus uses the symbolism of fruit or fruit bearing.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:4-5
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus last words on earth were “Go and make disciples of all nations…”
So how do we make disciples? Fruit. How do we give God glory? We bear fruit. The fruit is being more loving, more kind, more patient, more temperate. Life is about experiencing or growing the fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 also known as the Fruit of the Spirit i.e. love, joy, peace, patience….
How do we know if we are a disciple? How do we know if we are effectively discipling? How do we know if someone is really a person of faith, a Christian?
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” - Jesus
“Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” - Jesus - Matthew 7:16-18, 20
In the Bible there are two words that are often interchangeable and mean the same thing.
Glory and Fruit
In the book of Revelation, Jesus describes a message that will be given just before His second Advent - “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of his judgment has come.” Revelation 14:7
What does it mean to give glory to God?
Moses asked God - “Show me your Glory” on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 33:18)
The Lord answered “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. - Exodus 34:6-7
All of these are fascinatingly similar to the traits described as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
Jesus further delineates this concept and says “by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” - John 15:8
And the promise in Isaiah 27:6 - Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit.
And the final promise, in Revelation 18 - that God’s glory - this fruit - will one day fill the earth.
So if you’ve ever asked the question, if Jesus came and died for people’s sins to save them, why are we still here suffering? We are waiting eagerly, patiently - for the harvest.
Matthew 13:39 - The harvest is the end of the world. This is further explained in Revelation 14.
Plain and simple, the earth and the onlooking universe are waiting for the harvest. The harvest won’t come until there is fruit. But true to the laws of agriculture, there is a harvest coming with both good and bad fruit.
This of course brings in a rarely taught concept called Judgment and the reality that not all will be saved. Some who do not cherish and live by these principles of love, patience, humility, kindness - they will not walk the streets of gold. For some, or perhaps many - this is good news. That abusers, tyrants, and bullies won’t have a place for them in paradise. This is sad but true according to scripture.
So then, how do we experience this fruit in our lives? How do we ensure that our lives contain this fruit that will be ready for the harvest?
We engage with each other and community. These fruit of the spirit do not exist in isolation. Love requires others. Patience requires someone to be patient with. Kindness involves someone to be kind to. Life should be dictated by one of two laws - the law of the jungle or the law that says love thy neighbor as thyself. The first is what we see playing out before our eyes today. The second is what we all deep down long for.
Our church and the individuals who make up the body of believers here in Adairsville measure everything we do by whether or not we are growing fruit, whether or not we are seeing lives changes, people becoming more loving, more patient, more kind. We don’t just measure these ourselves, we ask those we love if we are growing. If there is anyone who should recognize growth of fruit in our lives, it is our loved ones, our friends, our coworkers, our community. We live to see this fruit in our lives and in the lives of those we serve.
As in nature, so in grace; there can be no life without growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so is the development of the Christian life. At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification (wholeness and restoration) is the work of a lifetime.
Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit bearing - the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others.
As you receive the Spirit of Christ - the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others - you will grow and bring forth fruit. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect.
Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church.
It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain. - Christ’s Object Lessons p. 65, 67, 69
Is this realistic? Oh yes.
The harvest is coming. If you want fruit in your life, all you have to do is ask for it. The promise is that He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion.
They say the church should be like a hospital for sinners. We agree. But hospitals have healthy, able staff who are able to help those who are sick and injured recover their health.
And if you look around, I’m sure you see many sick and hurting people, so we need more healthy doctors, nurses and staff :)