Fruit Punch Friday! (Part 2)
Rooting for Success
A couple weeks ago I discussed the need to produce good, genuine spiritual fruit in our lives, as can be read here. That immediately raises some questions that I hope to address over the course of the next few weeks, chief among them being how do we see fruitful growth on a daily basis in our lives? It seems easier said than done.
I think the reason we struggle to produce good fruit daily in our lives is because we think we can do it on our own. We think a little too highly of ourselves. We don’t need God’s help, but we will welcome it if He wants to pitch in. But there is a process for growth, in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm. We need to understand that we have a place in that process, but our place is not quite as prominent in producing results as we would like to think. In the 15th chapter of his Gospel, John the disciple records some incredible insight into this topic, straight from the teaching of Jesus Christ. In fact, John 15 is filled to the brim with a wealth of knowledge centering around this concept. We need to begin by understanding that all we hope to achieve we can’t possibly begin to accomplish on our own.
[John 15:1-4] NKJV
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
These verses set the stage for our understanding of our role in cultivating the fruitful life. Here Jesus is speaking to His disciples as they walk from the Upper Room, where they have just finished sharing their Last Supper with Christ, to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus will be arrested. Jesus has a lot He wants to tell them before His time with them comes to an end. The reality is finally sinking in that the Master is leaving them, and although in the chapter before this He promised them that the Holy Spirit would come and be with them in His absence, they are starting to get a little depressed about being separated from Him.
So Jesus takes the time in Chapter 15 to paint a mental picture for them of how things are going to be from here on out with Him gone. Just because He won’t be physically present with them, does not mean that their relationship will be over. Quite the contrary, He charges them to strengthen their dependence on Him if they hope to continue to serve Him and honor the Father. They have a role to play in His goal of cultivating the fruitful life in them so that they can reach the world. But first they must realize that they cannot produce this fruit on their own. Jesus explains to them what the source of good fruit is: Him! He is the true vine, the root system of our spiritual tree. They must stay connected to Him if they hope to bear fruit that will please Him. In fact, He makes it clear that good fruit cannot even be achieved without His involvement!
It is interesting to note that, when it comes to trees, there is at least as much of it growing under the ground as there is above ground! When you look at a tree, you are only seeing half the picture. Those roots draw out the nutrients of the soil and keep the tree alive. That gives me pause to reflect on my own personal spiritual walk; how rooted I am in the love of Jesus Christ is not going to be directly visible to the world around me. That’s on me. I have to make the time privately to devote myself to Him. But when no fruit is cropping up spiritually in my relationships, then it is a clear indicator of the “root” of my problems.
Art by Erin Frost
So that leads us to the first aspect of plant growth that we need to mirror in our daily life. If we aren’t being grounded in Christ, allowing Him to provide our sustenance, rather than the world, then we aren’t going to survive very long, let alone grow anything resembling good fruit. So how much time are you spending with Him? Are you loving Jesus, desiring Him, allowing Him to be the focal point of your day, each and every day?