I have what’s called an ornamental fruit tree in my front yard. That means, in layman’s terms, that it pumps out fruit that can’t be eaten, baked, or canned. The rabbits used to come in at night and try them but now they’ve moved on to fruit that is meant for consumption I’m sure. It’s only purpose as best I can tell is to litter my yard with orange grenades of acidic dye. It’s some kind of cherry variety although I’m not sure what kind specifically. The picture above was taken yesterday morning in my yard so if you are knowledgeable in the area of fruit trees or perhaps you were raised on a cherry farm, please let me know.
I have a weekly ritual of getting on my hands and knees and picking as many cherries as I can off of the ground and tossing them in the trash. Pounds and pounds of cherries are shed every fall. I think of all the water, sunlight, and nutrients required to grow this purposeless fruit, that rots in the landfills of northern Nevada.
It seems to me that one of the hardest evidences for the supremacy of Christ is that you can objectively see what happens to the enemies and friends of God. If we assume that God is indeed the source of life, and everything that is good, then it makes sense that the happiest, most content, and most loving people I know, are people who have surrendered to Christ. I can look at the results of their relationship with Jesus, and see evidence that they do actually love God, and that God is a keeper of His promises. They are bearing good fruit.
Because working at a church puts you in relationship with a wide variety of people, I also see an alarmingly large number of people that if taking a standardized test would check the Christian box, but it’s near impossible to see the results of their faith. In fact their lives are full of what I would call bad fruit; envy, quarrels, jealousy, lust, pride etc…
What has recently shifted in my perspective is this: the absence of good fruit is not the same as bearing bad fruit. Avoiding sin and “bad things” isn’t the same as being filled with the Spirit. A lot of religious people find comfort that they haven’t robbed a bank or cheated on their spouse…but God says this isn’t the point. The point is that we receive mercy and grace and so in turn give to, bless, serve, and love others and God.
No one is bearing no fruit…we are all bearing fruit of some kind. God has hard-wired us in His image to do so; to produce. Some will produce hope, love, selflessness, and kindness. Producing good things are only made possible by the saving work of Christ on the Cross. Therefore, a Christian bearing fruit is not “better” than someone who does not know God, but they are intended to be a better reflection of Christ’s supreme love and hope, because they have received the power to do so.
Others will reject His offer and relationship, and bear fruit of loneliness, of insecurity. One thing is clear: we are not saved by our works, but saved for good works…good fruit. Those of us that call ourselves Christian and are unable to point to specific good fruit in our lives should not sleep in false confidence that God is as apathetic to their rebellion, laziness, or excuses as we are.
“The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John the Baptist – The Gospel of Matthew