Andrea began her sermon by talking about blackberry picking. She used photographs to illustrate the blackberries she found in varying stages of ripeness, and then went on to explain the importance of picking the berries. This being that we get to eat the fruit, or make something out of it, and give it to others.
We are called and set apart as followers of Christ. Our identity, our purpose, and our self worth should be entirely bound up in Him. Therefore, we must examine every aspect of our lives to see which parts of it are missing Jesus.
It is easy when we’re at church, to be Christian, but what about in our home life, or our work life. If we are not standing firmly on the rock that is Jesus, then we risk falling into the trap of complacency, where we might let out fruit rot, rather than using it to make something. If we focus on Him, and not on what other people think of us, then we are standing in a place of absolute victory.
We must be honest and real with Jesus. We all have an innate need to be loved and liked by people, so we project what we feel is acceptable to others, but we need to be real and produce fruit everywhere.
Andrea went on to give us three points on the subject of fruitfulness.
- We are chosen to bear fruit.
Matthew 3:7-10 says:
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The truth is that if we have to tell people that we are Christians, and they can’t see it automatically from our actions, then we are doing something wrong. We are not bearing the fruit that we are called to bear. We need to show people that we are followers of Christ. Jesus is uncompromising in His love for us, and we must be uncompromising in following Him. He is either number one in our lives, or He is nothing. There is no middle ground.
In the scripture, Jesus talks of repentance. Repentance is a dynamic act. In this, we are asked to change what we were doing wrong, and to start doing what Jesus wants us to do. The question here is: Do our actions match our words. We must choose not to do the things we were doing. We must be set apart in our language and actions. God is not looking for lip service, but for a life service. We must allow Him to consume us.
If we walk His path, then we will produce fruit. We are called to walk in His power. Repentance, forgiveness and loving people is our choice, but we must forgive. If we don’t forgive, and we withhold forgiveness from anyone, then we, in turn, will not be forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift from God, given so that we may, in turn, forgive others.
The truth is that unforgiveness is poisonous. It leads to bitterness and hatred, which are toxic fruits. The enemy wants us to be unhappy and not at peace, and unforgiveness causes this, but we are called to be the power of Christ in people’s lives. To do this, we must be careful to not put our light out. We must know who we are, but be careful not to set ourselves up as Gods in our own lives, but must be constantly aware of who we are in Jesus.
We must realise who we are in Christ, and take that first step in surrendering to Him, as we get to celebrate the days when we don’t act on those negative impulses, but instead, focus on Jesus and what He wants for our lives.
2) We are not just chosen, we are expected to bear fruit.
As Christians, we must bear fruit. Galatians 5: 16-25 shows us the difference between good and bad fruit. In truth, it is our own actions that shut us out of heaven, and not God. Jesus took all of our sins to the cross and left us the Holy Spirit; the comforter. When we give in to the bad fruits, God cannot be there. He cannot even be in the presence of sin. When we engage in those acts, God cannot bless it. There is still a route back and we are still forgiven, but we are called to not five in to those basal instincts.
Sometimes, we can thing that our evil desires are bigger than Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They aren’t, but they feel like it, and sometimes, it’s easier to give in to it, but it doesn’t fall in line with God’s will for us. John the Baptist uses the illustration of the tree with no fruit that is cut down. This will happen to us if we do not bear good fruit. We are called to surrender to God’s glory, and if we do, then we become His glory. It isn’t about us, or other people. It is all about God.
3) It is necessary for us to bear fruit.
We often see the world in a “Me, me, me” mentality, but we need to frame our lives with a “God, others, me” mentality. Our fruit is sacrificial because we give it away. We are called to be peace bringers; to be kind, and to be loving. We will feel the same, but people will see the difference.
We are called to think of others even when we are on our knees and broken. We must realise that God has got us, and now, we must go and get others. The fruit within us was never meant for us alone. We shouldn’t wait to be asked to be kind, or to love, or help someone. If we volunteer and sacrifice, then we will find God.
God says that we are perfect in Him. We must not judge. Sometimes we don’t have the ‘ideal’, but God doesn’t care. He loves us anyway. When we bless others, we encounter God. When we come to Jesus, our world changes because He is in it.
We must reframe how we look at people by changing how we look at ourselves. Andrea encouraged us to be the same person on social medias and at work, or with our family, as we are at church, saying that “The victory in Christ extends to Instagram.”
In the end, we need to realise that God planned, Jesus accomplished, and the Holy Spirit makes it possible. God chose us, Jesus cultivates us, and the Holy Spirit helps us to give our fruits to others.
In closing, Andrea reminded us that our lives are not about us. They are all about Jesus. She encouraged us to commit to Him, so that we, in turn, may be whole.
Scriptures: John 15:2, Galatians 5:16-25, Matthew 3:7-10, Matthew 7:17-20