Have you ever wondered why people grow fruit trees, plant vege gardens, or sow grain? It may seem obvious, but have you thought through the realities this. Fruit trees produce fruit, verge gardens produce veges, and crops produce grain. If you don’t pick the fruit, veges or grain it drops to the ground and rots. Why? Fruit trees, vege gardens, and grain produce crops to be eaten by others. That’s the point isn’t it, all these things produce something for the sake of another.
It’s a strange world in which lives are consumed with self-satisfaction, self-protection, self-identification, etc. We consume not for the sake of another, but for the sake of the individual. We work not for the sake of another, but so we can make money, buy the things we crave, advance in position, prestige or power. To suggest there may be another way to see this raises high levels of angst. We are accused of inhibiting personal freedoms, of denying individual opportunity, or even undermining our social systems. Yet the narcissism of modern society is rotting us at the very core because we fail to see that our lives are never in isolation to the people and world in which we live.
The call of Abraham was to be blessed, so Israel could be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:1-3). Israel’s failure to live up to this is evident in the prophets regularly challenging Israel about their failure to be a blessing to the widows and the poor, to the aliens and foreigners, to the world. They were to be a beacon not hidden under a basket (Mt 5:14-16). Jesus didn’t hide from the crowds or religious authorities, instead his ministry was publicly accessible (Jn. 7:1-10), He came to be a blessing to others, and he calls us as his people to do the same. Paul reminds us that we are to walk in the footsteps of others, so we can share the blessings of the Gospel with them. The race we run is not for ourselves but, so others may win the prize we already have (1Cor 9:22-24).
We are part of the vine intimately connected to Jesus that we may produce the fruit of the Gospel. Jesus is clear, produce the fruit or be pruned until we do or until we fall away (Jn 15:1-17). We bear the fruit of the Gospel, so others may pick that fruit and experience the same joy we do. The real joy of the Christian life is not found in producing fruit but in producing fruit others consume. It is the same principle as regular horticulture. We grow things, so others may enjoy them. Christ grows us, so others may know Jesus through us.
Over the coming weeks I invite you to join me as we can discover what this sort of missional lifestyle looks like. What does it mean to be a blessing to others? How can I produce fruit in my life that touches others with the Good News of Jesus? It’s not rocket science. You don’t need a theological degree. There are simple steps we can take and embed into our lives that means the fruit we bear becomes something others want to enjoy. In the end, this lifestyle, which may be radically different to your current experience, stretches you to not just bear fruit, but to create a space so others can experience the joy the Holy Spirit shares when people discover Jesus in their lives.