Full to Bursting
When a plant doesn’t bear fruit, we don’t blame the seed. Instead, we acknowledge that the plant refuses to do what the seed had in mind for it. The plant is missing it’s full fruitfulness. It’s missing, in the deepest sense, it’s own life. It goes this way with us Christians too. If our response to God’s Word is an unhappy refusal to do what God has in mind for us, we fail to become what God had in mind for us. But, like the seed, it’s not God’s Word that’s failed to do what he had in mind. We just refuse to to say, “Amen.” We’ve failed to bear fruit.
St. Paul is helpful here, since in his letter to the Galatians (5:16-26), he distinguishes between works of the flesh and fruits of the Spirit. The works of the flesh are a laundry-list of selfish choices that come from us trying to achieve a full, happy life in our own way.
Our whole mental, spiritual, and physical response to God’s Word is to run away from what God wants for us. We prefer the way of selfishness, destructiveness, and wrongheaded ways of responding to God’s Word. We choose sexual immorality rather than chastity. We’d rather believe in fate, luck, destiny, and chance than stand before God holding up empty hands of faith. We prefer conflict and disagreement to unity and peace. We habituate toward jealousy and murder instead of going cold turkey to charity and self-sacrifice.
The fruits of the Spirit, on the other hand, are produced by God alone. The Spirit takes God’s Word and shows Him to us in earthly words, water, bread, and wine. In them, we’re shown the Father’s love, joy, peace, patient suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and sober-mindedness. The fruits of the Spirit aren’t the results of, or rewards for, our efforts to make ourselves right with God. Instead, we’re declared to be the very rightness for which we were made, given to us by God as free gift.
The goal of Christian living isn’t to gather in and store up two, three, four barn-fulls of good works for ourselves. The point is to enjoy our life that’s all gift, all fruit that God’s Word abundantly produces in and through us.
God’s Word didn’t become flesh to show us Christians how awesome He is at gardening. He did it to present us to His Father, holding us up as the apple of His eye. In this He shows us to be whole and happy, ripe and full to bursting with faith, hope, and love. And how does He accomplish this for us?
The seed of God’s Word will take root and grow in us, to produce fruit in and through us. The fruit of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. This is our Jesus. The Word of God. The seeds of our faith, life, and salvation today and always.