What Does It Mean For A Christian To Bear Fruit?
Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ: It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives IN me..."
Years ago I read about a Christian man who was a tremendous testimony to all the people who knew him. He had a daily Bible-reading booklet; and if he did not get a chance to witness to someone each day, he would write, "No fruit" in the margin of that particular day.
At that time I was under the impression that to bear fruit Christians should always be making an effort to verbally share the Lord. Bible verses such as John 15:8 ("Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples") were taught to me in Sunday School and from the pulpit. I felt that unless I was witnessing, I was not a fruit-bearer. Neither was I glorifying my Father, nor was I a good disciple. Hearing continually that we, as Christians, have a "work to do" made "bearing fruit" an absolute necessity - and a bondage.
It is true many Christians are able to openly share the Lord, as evidenced by ministers, evangelists and even Christian laymen. However, does this mean that other Christians are not bearing fruit?
I believe the answer lies in the realization that I am only a vessel, meant to contain Jesus Christ. He produces the fruit, not I. Fruit is a manifestation of the Christ within-inner faith produces outer action. Faith is the substance, not us. We are just the vessels that are being used by God. To be the container of Jesus Christ is to allow Him to do the producing.
A fruit bearer is not what a person does. It is what a person is. The real me is actually "fruit" coming forth. It is the result of what I am in Him. The Father in me will produce His works, as my efforts cease.
To be given the chance to share God is a wonderful opportunity, as He brings about the circumstances to do so. However, there is nothing more awkward and phony than a Christian who is witnessing because he thinks he has to.
Personally, I am not a Bible thumper, nor do I knock on doors, or try to witness to people on the street. It is NOT my gift. Rather, I share my faith through writing and public speaking...only when invited to speak to a Christian organization. I believe one of the greatest testimonals of a Christian is to have someone say to that person, "You seem to be at peace all the time, no matter what is going on in your life. I don't know how you got through this ordeal! I want what you have. What is it?" If asked, my answer has always been, "My faith in God." Quite often, a door is opened to share my story.
I have never seen a fruit tree struggle or sweat. An apple tree that appears to be dead in January is covered with fragrant blossoms within a couple of months. In the Fall, it is full of delicious apples. It stands there tall, beautiful, spontaneously producing what it was made to produce by its Creator.
One of the most wonderful mysteries of vesselhood (Christ living in those who have accepted Him into their lives) is our uniqueness: all of us are containers of the same Person, but each of us is different. I love to read, and I recently stumbled upon the fable of the mountain and the squirrel by Emerson. "Talents differ," the squirrel says, "all is well and wisely put; if I cannot carry a forest on my back, neither can you crack a nut."
Therefore, our uniqueness frees us from TRYING to be like our Christian brother or sister. Christ bears fruit through us, in a way that we actually enjoy, He being the Joy in us. We also discover that even though we find ourselves doing things we never thought we could do, we can of our own selves do nothing! Christ in us causes us to live our lives His way without out struggling, as we continually recognize our union with Him.
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If Jesus wrote me a letter, I believe this is what He would say to me. He encourages me to live life to the fullest and to trust Him.