Luke.13.6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?”
8 ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’
Okay, that’s a bit of a challenging parable!
Lets have a bit of explanation, the people hearing this would have seen this as a picture of them, a religiously pious people, and a picture I think can transfer in todays context to the Church.
Fig Trees are proud trees, standing tall, they also produce lots of green leaves… this tree probably looked fab, but just one problem it didn’t actually produce fruit.
I think this can sound a lot like the Church. We can look the part with our great buildings, we can sound the part with our music and our conversation… but the question has got to be are we actually producing fruit?
So what is fruit? I believe it is lives transformed by Christ.
In our Churches that will be people coming to faith, growing in faith, being changed by Christ to become more like Christ.
It might be slow, it might be gradual, it might be two steps forward and one back, but if the Spirit of God is at work in his Church there will be fruit.
True with our own personal lives, it is easy to cultivate leaves, learn how to talk Christian-eaze or ‘a verse for every occasion’, or to hang out in and around churchiness… but much harder to (with the Holy Spirit at work in us) cultivate fruit of transformation, showing “love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and self control”.
I was wondering about leaves in Churches… Sometimes we think somewhere is really fruitful because it has a really high standard of musical excellence, or we think somewhere is really happening because it has a nice modern building and serves great coffee, or a Church has a fab website, or the congregation is large these are all things (and not bad things) that we sometimes look at to measure the ‘health’ of a Church rather than the only question that matters is “how like Jesus are its members becoming?”
How did Jesus say we could tell who were his disciples? His answer is simple “by this will all people know that you are my disciples, because you love one another”.
So lets be people who are more concerned with fruit than leaves.