Nothing But Leaves – Part 4

by DanWolgemuth on November 22, 2013

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.  And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves… (Mark 11:12-13a)

Have you looked closely at those little stickers that cling to each apple in your local grocery store?  They often identify the location where the fruit is produced.  Apples from Washington, grapes from California, oranges from Florida…

Fruit from other places.  Good fruit.  Great fruit.  To be applauded, supported, commissioned, blessed but always within the following understanding; our fruit production can’t be outsourced.

If fruit production could have been outsourced, clearly Jesus would have shown us the way. 

When Jesus came to earth; when Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”; when Jesus “emptied Himself”; when Jesus “took on the form of a servant” He put to rest any misconceptions.  He came to earth to produce fruit.  It was personal… it had to be.  To rescue us.  To make us fruit producers.

God isn’t pleased or satisfied when we delegate fruit production to those in full-time ministry, or to individuals that have more time, or more money, or more skill.  His plan is fruit production everywhere in every follower.  

Jesus expects fruit in the family room of our homes.  He delights to see a bumper crop in our neighborhoods.  God is glorified when our hearts ache for the poor; when our personal convenience gives way to the inconvenience of obedience.  The Holy Spirit of God is evident in our lives when we welcome a stranger or we visit the sick or we come to those in prison. 

When we love God and love others fruit happens.  The absence of fruit, in other words – “nothing but leaves,” means there’s something wrong with either “love God” or “love others.”

Generosity, service, compassion and love explode from the fruit of an abiding life, like juice from a Michigan peach.  It just can’t help itself.   

Funding fruit production on other branches will never be a surrogate for the production of real fruit; fruit on my branches. 

God wants my heart.  He wants my passions.  He wants me to cling to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

I can lead a ministry with thousands of leaders doing powerful and transformational ministry and completely miss the point; completely satisfy myself with a leaf producing life.  Clean and safe and fruitless.

I can own an orchard and produce nothing. 

The beautiful and liberating reality is that a life connected to Jesus will produce fruit.  It has to.   

Fruit is the evidence of a healthy walk with Jesus; it’s not a prerequisite to that life, and it’s also not extra credit.   

Branches thrive when they love the vine.  And when branches thrive, fruit grows. 

Fruit that explodes with taste.  Fruit that’s impossible to describe.  Fruit that is beyond explanation. 

To the vine I cling.  To Jesus.  For the glory of the vinedresser. 

Then fruit.  More fruit.  Abundant fruit.   

May it be so.

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