Picture this. You pull up to an apple orchard, get out of your car and pull on a coat to block the crisp, fall air. Just up the hill you spot rows and rows of apple trees. Their thick green leaves are an indication that you’ll soon be taking a bite of a tart, fresh apple. But, as you begin to scan the trees, you see there’s no sign of apples anywhere. There aren’t even apples on the ground. These trees have never produced any fruit! You’re disappointed.
Leaves are great but they are not fruit. They’re pretty. They’re useless. Fruit is the goal.
Why is it that a lot of our churches are beautiful, leafy trees but not producing fruit? Sure, we’ve tried to redefine “fruit” to make ourselves feel good but our fruit, plain and simple, is not Jesus’ fruit.
Our trees are awesome! We’ve got giant buildings, new tile floors, flatscreens, gyms and comfy chairs. Our church sign is cool. We’ve got cool banners and backdrops and our children’s areas look like theme parks. Our worship space is awesome. Man, we’ve got some good-looking, leafy trees! No one can argue with that.
But what about the fruit of new life as people come to Christ? Where are the people who are just coming to faith in Jesus? I’m not talking about the attendance increase of people shifting from this church to that church. I’m talking about the fruit of people coming to faith.
Maybe it’s time to stop spreading the fertilizer and spraying Miracle Grow. Maybe it’s time to stop looking at the quality and fullness of our leaves. Leaves are pretty but they aren’t the point of the fruit tree. I’m thinking it’s time to go out, clear the rocks, battle the weeds and till the soil for planting the gospel. I’m thinking it’s time to stop comparing leaves and start measuring fruit.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.” John 15:16 MSG