Summary: God promises to produce love in us that is unconditional; the same love that He has for us.
“Fresh fruit is good for you.”
Strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, apples, oranges, etc.
Three servings a day of fresh vegetables and fruit will make us feel better, live longer, body will function better. Fresh fruit is good for you.
This is not a nutritional series. This series is about the promise of God to develop spiritual nutrition in you. This is not about diet, it is not about “should” and “ought-to’s.” It is about how God wants to turn you into a fruit tree. God promises to produce fruit in your life. And please hear how I said that. I said that God wants to do it. You will enjoy the fruit. Others around you will enjoy the fruit that God grows in your life. But you cannot grow it on your own. This seems like a nice little principle, but really it goes to the heart of following Jesus Christ, because so many Christians try to make the walk with Christ into a diet, or a boot camp type experience, and they fail at their attempts and more serious than that – they miss God’s grace.
And this is nothing new. Jesus tried and tried to get his followers to understand that what they knew about a relationship with God was wrong. They had been influenced so much by the legalistic system of their day that they really could not hear how Jesus was trying to correct them.
They had been taught that if they went to temple, made the sacrifices, ate the right food, stayed away from bad people – that God would love them and God would bless their lives with health and prosperity.
Jesus said “No. You have it all wrong. God really doesn’t like your little rules. Your rules are things that you can do. You are paying attention to the rules and not to him. He wants you. Love him, worship him, and listen to him and you will do the right things. Put him first in your life.
One time he gave them this illustration of how they were to connect to God and how they would experience real prosperity and health in life.
John 15:1–5 (NLT)
1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
Now that is an agricultural illustration and it may not work today like it did in the first century, when literally everyone was familiar with grapes and vines. Today, I imagine that Jesus might say “I am the true server, and you are on my network. If you stay logged in, you will grow. My father will be the one who defrags you and cleans up your hidden files. If you are not connected to my network, you will not be able to do anything.”
It is about the source.
But as we begin this series, our #1 goal here is to get this correct about our source and our orientation, because people so often get this backwards. We are to be connected to God and God will do the producing. And I see Christians struggle and get defeated all because they are have logged off and they are trying to produce fruit – they are trying to grow in their inner lives – but they don’t get anywhere – and they can’t figure it out.
Jesus says I am the true vine and you are the branches. Jesus is the source. For us to grow in life, we must stay connected. We must orient our life to Christ. In other translations that is called “abiding.” Jesus says “abide in me and I will produce fruit in you.” It is not up to us. It is up to God. So first it is a matter of our connection and our source. If we are connected to the right source, God will produce fruit in our lives and remember that fruit is good for you.
It takes time.
We now have vineyards in Kentucky. They are mostly selling wines that they buy from other vineyards because it takes many years to get a grape vine producing. First you plant the vine shoot – nothing that year. The second year it grows – but no fruit. The third year it might produce grapes, but they don’t harvest them. Perhaps on the fourth year they might take some grapes, but then even if they make wine, it must sit and they must wait. It takes time. There is no way to speed up the process. In fact, in agriculture, anything that grows fast is usually a weed. And this applies to our inner lives – how fast God produces fruit in our lives. It usually takes years.