To be clear, I am not a gardener. I tried for two years to be a gardener, but gardening turns out not to be for me. However, during my time at trying to grow vegetables and fruit, I did learn a couple of things:
- Weeds grow fast, especially when it rains.
And it rains a lot in England! Weeds develop long, strong root systems underground, before you even see the stem or leaves or anything that can identify this plant as a weed. Seemingly overnight, the weeds appear. Seemingly overnight they threaten the life of the garden.
Weeds must be dealt with swiftly. You have to learn to identify the stem, before it seeds and spreads. You have to pull it up completely, leaving no root. Any bit of the plant left will enable it to grow again. Pulling up weeds, dealing with what would suffocate new life or new growth in the garden, needs to be part of the gardening routine. Not just something done every once in awhile when weeds over run the garden and become a huge problem.
- You can’t stop strawberries and raspberries from growing.
They are very resilient! A friend gave us a stick (she called it a ‘cutting’), she told us what to do to help this three inch stick develop roots. We did as instructed and three years later this stick grew into a raspberry bush that is threatening to take over our garden! I am not complaining though. I love raspberries! But the plant has started to pop up in unexpected places. We cannot control where the plant will go or where the fruit will grow.
Strawberries are very similar, in that once planted, they just keep expanding, keep growing. They are also unstoppable (and irresistible to our puppy as it turns out!)
- You “reap whatever you sow” (Galatians 6:7).
If you plant an onion bulb, you get onions. If you plant a potato, you get more potatoes. If you plant an apple seed, you get a apples! When you plant a particular seed, you expect a particular plant with particular fruit.
Now – if you are just walking along and see a row of trees, unless you are a botanist, how do you tell what type of tree it is? BY ITS FRUIT!
And early followers of Jesus used fruit as a metaphor to say – look if we want people to know we are following Jesus, certain things need to be evident in our lives. (This is why Jesus was so obsessed by fig trees and fruit.) The fruit of a tree usually tells you what kind of tree it is. The fruit sets the tree apart from other plants.
According to Paul, in Galatians 5 of the Bible, people should look at followers of Jesus and see – physically see – “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
That’s the fruit of a life spent following Jesus. Of life lived in the Holy Spirit.
- Fruit carries potential!
What is the difference between a vegetable and a fruit? According to a scientists on t’interweb, vegetables tend to be the roots, stems, and leaves of the plant, while fruit carries the seeds of the plant. (There are exceptions, of course. Science isn’t an exact science, and classification is more complicated than I am making it.)
But if we are talking about fruit, we are talking about sommat that carries a bit of itself, a potential to make more of itself wherever it goes. It’s got the seeds for new life within it! All it needs is planting, water and sunshine and after some time, voila! New plant, more fruit!
Life in the Spirit is the same. Because of Jesus, we carry God’s growing potential within us – not just for our own personal growth, but also to help others. As we live lives that are full of God’s fruit, “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – these things grow in the lives of others. Followers of Jesus encourage each other in growing, but also – just like my raspberries – new life can spring up anywhere and in anyone!
And like my strawberries, you can’t stop God’s spirit from spreading.
Pulling Weeds and Sowing Seeds
The world is God’s allotment. By His spirit, God is busy pulling up weeds and planting seeds all the time. And because of Jesus, as people adopted into God’s family, we have the authority to do the same – to pull up weeds (like injustice, hate, bigotry, aggression, etc) and plant seeds (like justice, love, compassion, gentleness, self-control, etc). We are free to challenge (in love) the things we don’t want to see in God’s allotment, and to replace them with the things we do want to see, things that correspond more with God’s nature and character, which we discern together as we read scripture in community.
As God grows His spiritual fruit in our lives, we can share this fruit with others. Remember – fruit carries the seeds, the potential for new growth. But unlike a plant, you move. So – fellow followers of Jesus – this means that we carry God’s planting potential wherever we go!
I just want to finished by asking you to think of the week ahead of you. Where are you going? Who might you meet along the way? What God given potential – planted in you – might others need this week?
Our God is a God of new life.
And God is springing up new life – everywhere.
Sommat to Think About
- Pray. What fruit (or fruits) do you want God to grow more of in your life? You may find that you have opportunities to try and be more patient or joyful etc (whatever “fruit” you picked). You may struggle. Don’t panic. Just tell God you are struggling and ask God how to do it God’s way next time.
- Think. Has God been teaching you about that fruit already? Ask God to spread that fruit into others lives and into situations you are praying about.
- Remember. Like gardening, life in the spirit is a process. Growth takes nurturing and time. I believe that God is interested in having relationships with us people, and in us working together and helping each other.