Fruit Punch Friday! (Part 1)
The Fallout of Fake Fruit
I think we can all agree that marriage teaches you a great many things: how to model the selfless, devoted love that exists between Christ and His church, how to put the needs of someone else over your own, how to have patience with each other and ignore the little idiosyncrasies about your spouse that could easily drive you nuts, how to have wisdom when responding to your wife’s requests (yes, dear). One area in particular that I have learned a lot from Nikki and that has transformed my perspective is grocery shopping. I remember one time when we were still dating and I went with Nikki to the grocery store so she could pick up some items for her apartment. I was flabbergasted at the end of the whole ordeal when she paid about $40 for her grocery bill, and it was just enough food to get through the week! At the time, I was probably spending less than that on my grocery bill for the whole entire month (my diet mostly consisting of cans of chili, ramen noodles, and grilled cheese sandwiches). But now I have been trained in the art of the trip to the grocery store; in fact, I am sometimes even entrusted with making the journey on my own. I know how to pick out items that will be used to make an actual meal, as opposed to what I was consuming during my bachelor days. I realize now that $40/month on groceries is just not going to cut it, nor really will $40/week. I’ve also learned how to pick out good fruits and vegetables on my own, although looks can sometimes be deceiving.
When you walk into the produce section of the grocery store, fruits and vegetables are designed to look colorful, vibrant, and appetizing. And we now expect to find everything year round, regardless of if it is in season or not. But the reality is that an apple in the supermarket is not the same thing that God created in the Garden in Genesis. Our produce is now pumped full of chemicals and pesticides to make them bigger and more hardy against pests during their time growing. They are often coated with wax to give them that shiny gleam. And many items, like tomatoes and oranges, are even injected with artificial coloring to give them that ripe, healthy look when they are often times shipped to the store prematurely. We have become so accustomed to what we see at the stores that most of us would balk at the smaller, less colorful counterpart that has been grown naturally. Yet many people would tell you that the organically grown apple tastes better than the artificially influenced apple, and the long-term effects of these additives has yet to be determined. A shift has occurred in the last fifty years in our global society that has developed a mass-production mindset focused on quantity over quality, with profit being the goal to achieve at all costs.
Now I am not here to advocate that you reevaluate your grocery habits and begin buying organic. But this illustrates some very pertinent spiritual truths for us as believers. These are the same issues that Jesus dealt with in His day. Many of the so-called spiritual leaders were focused more on appearance over substance, trying to look very pious in everything they did, but in reality just going through the motions to get attention. Jesus called them dirty cups that had been cleaned on the outside and white-washed tombs full of death and defilement. The struggles we face today in our daily Christian walk are the same that have plagued mankind since the fall of man in Genesis 3, when God punished Adam with the curse of toiling and sweating in his labor. From that time on, sin has continually lured us to rebel against God and try to find the short-cuts in life, the path of least resistance, the easy way out of all that hard work we were promised in this life. We want to get the most reward out of the least amount of effort. We try to disguise the evil that comes so readily in our lives and pass it off as good.
In our churches today, there are far too many Christians who want to take short-cuts in their spiritual lives. We try to still live in the old life of sin, laziness, and rebellion by manufacturing spiritual fruit with little or no effort. It is always easier to appear righteous by going through the motions rather than actually engaging in the difficult labor that is trying to grow in our faith and knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. God’s first words to Adam in the Garden were “Be fruitful”. Fruitfulness is the purpose of our lives; it is the mark of those who truly love and serve the Lord. We need to continually evaluate ourselves to ensure we don’t begin to slide into faking the quality of the fruit we offer to God. We can’t fool God or pull a fast one on Him. We are called to be genuine in living the fruitful life.