Bishop David Roller (To read more from Bishop Roller, visit fmcusa.org/<br />davidroller.)
Life and fruitfulness have an essential connection. If one generation exists without fruitfulness, life would be extinguished — except for maybe rhubarb, which seems to have survived unchanged and unimproved since the age of dinosaurs.
The Bible’s first chapter doesn’t give many details about Creation but takes great pains to reveal that every plant and animal had the seed inside itself to reproduce. Reproduction is a way to distinguish stuff that’s alive from stuff that’s dead. A tree reproduces a tree, whereas a red Solo cup doesn’t reproduce a red Solo cup.
When God instructed His Creation to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:22, 28), it was because the capability had been hardwired into His creation. Fruit is the seed-carrying mechanism for that increase. Fruit is how reproduction happens.
Yet fruitfulness goes beyond reproduction to quality. When Jesus spoke of fruit, He wasn’t just urging reproduction; He was distinguishing between good fruit and bad fruit (as in Matthew 3, 7 and 12). In this sense, “fruit” represents the actions that demonstrate what’s going on inside. Jesus could see plenty of religious activity, but it didn’t pass the taste test for good fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is contrasted with the fruit of the flesh in Galatians 5. The author, Paul, suggests that everybody has fruit (actions that flow out of their internal spiritual condition) but it’s not all good fruit.
We’ve all had moments when we’ve wondered why we’re not seeing reproduction. Remember that most plants don’t give fruit year-round. Ripe fruit has a short season each year. The plant spends most of the year faithfully preparing to be fruitful for a short span of time. Similarly, in the life of the Christian, there is no polarity between fruitfulness and faithfulness. They are simply different seasons of the same plant.
There are two questions for each of us about our fruitfulness: How much? And how good? There’s no excuse for those who have never experienced a season of reproduction just as there’s no excuse for those who have never produced “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).
We want baskets full of fruit, and we want the fruit to be tasty. And no rhubarb, please.0