Getting back to
“He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
We continue in our Lenten series on getting back to Eden.
Last week we looked at what life was like in the Garden of Eden before sin: Sinless, an environmental paradise, innocent and without shame or guilt, without violence, cooperative. We reflected on the fact that as citizens of heaven we are fully entitled to that life – the life of Eden. Paradise is our inheritance. We need to stand firm against sin so that we might take possession of Eden. By standing firm, we give others a taste of Eden, an introduction to Jesus, through our witness.
But what happens if our lives are marked by fruitlessness. What if we fail to bear witness and offer that taste of Eden to those we encounter? God had suffered long and hard with the people of the old Israel. They had grown cold, legalistic, and self-centered. Israel was not bearing the fruit of God’s truth. Yet He was patient.
Our human reaction might say “No Fruit? Cut it down.” Jesus’ teaching is different. When His Father comes looking for fruit in us and finds none Jesus steps in. Father, let me keep at them. Let me work at them, ‘fertilize’ them, and see if they bear fruit.
Seeing the love of His Son the Father allows it. I’ll wait yet another year. Perhaps then they will be fruitful?
To get back to Eden, to the perfect garden, we have to bear real fruit. That does not mean we should just produce a few good works, a few grapes or figs every now and then – anyone can throw a few dollars towards charity or can be nice for a day or two. Rather to bear real fruit means we need to change the kind of tree we are. We have to change inside and out. With true conversion of heart and repentance the fruit is produced naturally and without effort as part of Jesus. We are one in heart, mind, body, and soul. The fruits of the Spirit are apparent in us and are produced regularly: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
As we produce ever more abundantly we bring that glimpse of Eden – people find Eden alive in us. They see in us the promise of hope – the beauty and glory that life in Jesus produces. They want part in that Eden. They want to be like we are – a people of promise. We bear the fruit that furthers the Kingdom of God. Eden is within our grasp. The unstated alternative is that God will not tolerate fruitlessness indefinitely. God gives His help so that when we are barren we might turn and bear fruit. He expects a response to His effort. Yes, Lord, make me fruitful.