Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Today’s Topic: What Kind of Fruit Are You Producing
Today’s Text: I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. (Isaiah 5:1-2)
In an old book of stories I have on my desk I found this strange reference to an apple tree growing in an orchard here in the Midwest. I searched for some time on the internet to verify it, but could not find anything about its exact location. But that does not necessarily mean the story is not true. The world wide web is not the final authority on all things.
This old apple tree was planted many years ago, with its limbs in the ground and its roots in the air, and which still lives to bear an occasional apple and sprout branches where roots should be. It is a curiosity to those who see it. The farmer who planted it is said to have read an old German legend in which such an inverted tree played a prominent part. Although the tree lives, and occasionally bears an apple, it is only a curiosity and bears no fruit of any respectable amount.
That tree is a picture of what happens when Christians decide to put their roots in the world rather than in Christ. It’s the same picture the prophet Isaiah is portraying with his image of the vineyard in chapter five.
God planted a vineyard. He cleared the rocks and trees, worked the soil, and planted the vines (the nation of Israel). He built a watchtower for protection, and He built the winepress for the abundant harvest He expected. God did everything to make it possible for the vineyard to bear fruit that would honor Him. But the people spread their roots and their branches into the world, and the fruit was unusable to the Lord Almighty.
We are no different than the people of Israel in Isaiah’s day. We say we are a part of the vine of Christ, yet we try to live Christian lives without being planted in the Christian church. We choose to let our roots run out into the responsibilities of the world rather than into the responsibilities of church life. We are very much like that inverted tree. We bear an occasional apple, but there is nothing of any significant or consistent value to the Lord.
So what happens to trees and vineyards like this? Well, like the inverted apple tree, there is only one way to justify its existence – its curiosity level that entertains people. So many people in the Christian church today are nothing more than entertainment to the people of the world. They make jokes about us, they mock us, and they use us to justify their own sinful lifestyles. Our hypocrisy authorizes such responses.
In the case of the vineyard in Scripture, the vines will be destroyed. God does not waste time on vines and branches that do not produce. This is a hard teaching from Scripture, but it is a trustworthy teaching. Jesus confirms what Isaiah says in chapter 5 when He says these words about the vine in John 15 –
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
My friends, where are your roots? Are you attempting to take nourishment for your life from the world? Are you seeking to grow branches according to the world’s standards so its people will accept you and approve of you? Or are you rooted in Christ alone, and bearing fruit only for His glory?