Sunday, June 1, 2014

On Bearing Fruit . . .

 Wisdom is know by her children. Another way of saying that is she is know by her fruit. What we reap is evidence of what we've sown. Everything planted underground, which is that what we put in secret and cover and water, will sprout. If one is, in secret, a sinner, it will grow into greater sin. If one is righteous in secret, it likewise will grow into greater righteousness. This is the nature of the supernatural; it is always a seed that will grow. This is why Jesus constantly refers to the Spiritual as having to do with fields, vineyards, crops, seeds, soil, etc. It's because it must be watered, must be kept, must be weeded, must be guarded. All things, we are given accountability to.
 But when we ourselves become the proverbial fig tree . . . What must we do?
 Bear fruit.

 Now, i'm not talking about some simple thing we can manage of our own accord; "Random Acts of Kindness," anyone can do. Not to say that specific gesture is without credence, but it's hardly a fruit of the Spirit when the world is just as capable as us. That could be, with the correct motive (glory given to God), a fruit of the Spirit, if we are led to it. But that's not what separates Christians from the world.
 Anyone can love those who are pleasant and lovely, which is why Jesus told us specifically to love our enemies. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and our neighbor is anyone put in our path, not merely the person of close residence. Neighbors are often our enemies, and enemies are often our neighbors, because those who wish us harm are oftentimes those who we are or have associated with.
 Do you know what it means to love an enemy? Do you know what it feels like to shake hands and to hug someone whom you know to be devising against you? Do you know what it's like to genuinely hope for their well-being?
 It's probably pretty difficult. In fact, i'd even dare say it's impossible for the flesh to accomplish some such feats.

 In 2006, in Pennsylvania, an armed man entered an Amish schoolroom of girls ranging from 6-13 years old with the intention of molestation. He killed five of them, and shot more. This would seem an unforgivable act. But there are those who are entirely unworldly, who are no more of this world than Christ is, who are able to attend the funeral of the perpetrator, look his family in the eyes and embrace them, and even contribute to his family's well-being. They forgave something i (and most others) could never dream of forgiving.

 Mark 11 tells us of Jesus being hungry and seeing a fig tree in leaf, though out of season for figs. Regardless, He approached it and found none on it, so He cursed it. The next morning, He and His disciples were passing back by and saw that it had died completely to its roots. It concludes with a message about faith, and He says, "whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (v. 25)

 There are some interesting details about that little occurrence. For one, it was out of season for figs. Despite that, Jesus still cursed it. Another thing is He would've known before approaching it that it had no figs, not just because it was out of season but also because He is Christ--He knows things.
 Christ doesn't want us to produce only when we're in season, only when we're strong in faith or ready to take on a mission. He wants us producing now. At His approach. And the sad thing is, that tree reflects so many Christians. It's green. Looks healthy. It's in leaf. But it has no fruit.
 A quote i often sarcastically use is, "We're all about appearances here." That's exactly how so many Christians these days are, though; as long as we look Christian, as long as we give the appearance, we're okay. But no, this is fruitlessness!
 We don't even produce fruit in season (when things are going well), let alone out of season (we curse the sky when it falls--praise God for holding it up as long as He has!).

 If we're patient and loving and gentle and faithful (and the rest of the list from Galatians 5:22-23) when we have a roof over our heads, financial and emotional and physical security, and when we're healthy and have a computer to blog on, that we're doing pretty good at living by the Spirit and bearing good fruit.
 Take it all away; no water, no heat, no shelter, sleeping on the ground in the rain, eating the refuse of others, what do we have? Joy? Peace? This is the out-of-season that God expects us to bear fruit in. This is His approach. And if we can't offer such fruits as He asks for when we have nothing else, when we just have Him before us and asking us to be patient and self-controlled, we will be cursed and will wither to the roots, fit and ready to be thrown into the fire.

 It's not enough to simply be Christian. We have to be like Christ. It was not yet His "season," and even still He turned water to wine--the best wine at that.
 We can't settle for loving those that love us, but no less than compassionate for those that harm us. While we are still enemies, we must be reconciled to others that wish ill against us. This is bearing fruit out of season. Any fig tree can produce in season, but it takes one living for Christ to produce fruit out of season. Any worldly person can love those that love them, but it takes a Christian to truly and selflessly lay down their life for someone that hates them. And this is what Christ demands of us.

 Disclaimer: i am by no means perfect. I could not, presently, do as i've been writing. Forgiving a minor offense is simple enough. Love always trusts, though, and i'm one of the most untrusting people there is. I have witnessed too many hypocrites (of which i am the chief)--i don't want to see a perfect person, i just want to see people genuinely trying. And that's where the problem lies; i have too long been around too many churched people outside of Christian gatherings to trust but the fewest of few, because "nobody's perfect," so they refuse to even try to be Christian outside of the church walls.
 Tallying it up, there are literally six people outside of immediate family that have my legitimate trust. And i've learned that people are people; my faith does not rest in their faith. To see any of these fall, i've learned to callous myself in this way, would not make me falter.

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