[musings from the manse – 2nd May 2020]
What does it mean to grow in Christ?
Well, one of the metaphors used in the bible is that of bearing fruit and still God looks for us to bear fruit in our lives as his followers today.
Jesus often talks in terms of bearing fruit. In the Sermon on the Mount he contrasts those who are in the kingdom bearing good fruit and those outside the kingdom bearing bad fruit (Matthew 7:17). And that a good tree will be recognised by good fruit (Matthew 12:33).
He curses the unfruitful fig tree in a symbolic piece of teaching about the fruitfulness of the Jewish religious tradition as symbolised by the Temple (Matthew 21:19).
And on the occasion of the Last Supper, he shares his reflections on his disciples bearing fruit when he says:
“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 15:5)
Fruitfulness is the hallmark of a being a disciple of Jesus.
And Paul in his letters also refers to the fruit of the Christian life, most memorably in his letter to the church in Galatia 5:22-23a:
“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Bearing fruit in our lives is all part and parcel of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
God wants us to bear fruit in our lives as his people. God wants those of us who abide in Christ to produce fruit flavoured by the Holy Spirit in our living. Those flavours of fruit mentioned by Paul in Galatians, and many more, such as justice and righteousness, compassion, perseverance and grace.
Good fruit in our lives that can be a blessing to us, a blessing to him and a blessing to others.
As followers of Jesus we need to become more intentional about letting God produce the fruit of his Spirit in our lives. As we do so, our witness and wholeness as God’s church would be magnified beyond our imagining.
Because the fruit that God wants to see in our lives reflect his very own character. Jesus is the vine that we grow from; therefore, if we continue to abide in Christ, the fruit that we will produce in our lives will make the image of God in our lives ever clearer to those who see us.
Now viniculture – that is the technical name for growing grapes – (other fruits are available but Jesus focused on a vine which produced grapes so let’s run with it!) is a little bit outside my area of expertise, but as is the way of today’s world, when you want to find out how to do something – you just google it.
So, these are some of the things the Farmer’s Almanac says is needed to grow grapes:
- prepare soil well
- before planting soak roots in water for two or three hours
- dig a hole partly fill with topsoil
- space vines 6 to 10 feet apart
- plant grape vines in the early spring
- construct a trellis or arbour to support
- select a site with full sun and good air circulation.
- prune when needed
- water when needed
And in these instructions, even without too many tenuous links, we can find some ideas as to how we can look to see better fruit produced in our lives as Jesus’ followers.
In our case, Jesus in the vine, so we are not responsible for planting, so we can leave some of them to God’s good judgement and grace. However, the final four aspects from this list are possibly ones that could help us see better fruit grow.
And the next few blog posts are going to reflect on each of these in turn as to what they might mean for us to grow in Christ in a time of isolation – support, sun & air, pruning and watering.
Yours in Christ
Minister of CBC
All bible quotations from Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.