Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches, and that if we desire anything good in this life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control (the fruit of the Spirit-filled life), we must remain connected to him. The analogy is really as simple as can be; if we do not remain close to our Lord we simply cannot bear fruit.
My friend owned a deli in Turlock and he enjoyed putting almond blossoms in a vase when they blossomed in February or March. I said, “Tom, as your friend, I must tell you, these flowers are beautiful, but they will never produce fruit. You should plan to get your almonds elsewhere this year!” We both laughed because the truth was obvious…so plain to see. The flowers were indeed beautiful, but they would never produce what the flower promised–an almond. If a branch does not remain connected to the tree–the beauty that it has today will fade by tomorrow, it will dry up and die. And that is the truth for all living things. And it’s true for us too.
Like my good friend’s almond branch, there many people far more concerned with beauty, than remaining connected to God. Jesus called these kinds of people, “white washed tombs.” He said they look good on the outside, but on the inside they are full of dead men’s bones–there is no life in them. That’s the problem, to be life-giving, we must ourselves have life. And to be separated from our Lord, brings death to our soul. That is what sin is–it is those words or deeds that do not uplift, do not bring life, but instead bring sadness, separation, strife, suffering, and death to others.
This is why prayer, repentance, and reconciliation are at the center of the Christian life. Through sin we become disconnected from God, from others, and even from ourselves, and when that happens, we simply cannot be life-giving and produce what our Lord desires for us to produce. When we live in sin we fail to love, we are robbed of our joy and we refuse to bring joy to others. We do not have peace in our life and we cause disease in others against whom we sin. Our world is in a gross state of unrest, and the cure will not come from the government or from self-help groups, it will come only by returning to our Lord. Our country and our world is moving farther away from The Life and that should cause great concern for us. And although I don’t get to decide what our world does, I do decide what I do. I stay connected to Christ Jesus and produce much fruit.
How many here grow almonds? Walnuts? Apples? Figs? Many of us don’t grow them, but we do enjoy eating them. And this is our take away – trees do not need the fruit that they produce–hungry people do. Trees are deeply rooted and receive their nourishment from the air, the earth, and water. And when the soil is good, the air is clean, and the water fresh, they produce fruit for a hungry world.
And so it is with us. When we are rooted in our Lord, when we remain connected to him, we produce much fruit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control (GAL 5:22). But the fruit isn’t for us–it’s for others who are hungry. And our world is hungry. Hungry for life. Hungry for love. Hungry for peace and lasting joy. They need Christ–they need Christians living their faith, providing good example, and helping them to see that although the flowers in their vase are pretty, well, you know.
If we find that we have become bitter, unloving, unkind, and not at ease, we must return to the lord. Remain connected to him, and produce good fruit. We need life, we need to produce fruit–our world is hungry.