One of the exhortations that we see over and over throughout Scripture, from the Old Testament through the New, is to bear fruit. Jesus said we would be KNOWN by it. In our consumerist culture, however, we are often confused about what that means. In business, it means profits, production, etc. In politics, it means the number of votes, or how popular a particular measure is. We take these aspects of our culture, turn to the church, and look at it with these lenses on.
But what IS this fruit that we are to be known by? Should there not be increased numbers at church? With an increase in numbers at church, should not offerings increase?? Should we not seek to touch the lives of others with our own?
The Scriptures make it plain what kind of fruit we should be bearing. And you can probably guess which verse is coming:
Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The early church EXPLODED in the first centuries after Christ ascended, and they did not have nearly the extended missionary networks we have today. They were simply faithful to Jesus and His way, and they bore these spiritual fruits. And there is no law against them…in other words, you cannot have too much of any one of these virtues.
And then they came. People. SO MANY OF THEM. They were attracted to what they saw in people who followed Jesus.
Those who continue to follow the ways of the world in church may see an increase in numbers or money, but like the grass, it will blow away. It will not last. Spiritual fruit: THIS is the hard work that we must undertake. Then, as God gives the increase, we will see His Kingdom come more and more in our midst. What happens with numbers from there is up to Him, but we will have peace regardless. And that is something we all could use more of.