A couple years ago, during a trip to Florida, we took a trip to an orange grove. As we walked through the trees, I picked an orange from the tree, pealed it, and ate the fresh orange. There was just something incredible about the taste of that fruit, it was so sweet and juicy. As I ate the orange, I heard the tree speaking to me. “Hey you, eating my orange,” it said. Of course I was amazed as I looked around trying to figure out who was talking. The tree spoke up again and said, “Hey, do you know how my branches grow oranges?”
Well, of course I was intrigued, so I said, “Sure, tell me all about it.”
“Well,” the tree said, “You might think that it takes a lot of effort for me to grow oranges. Now, while it is true that for me to grow the best oranges, many conditions must be right. For example, I need the right amount of rain, and sunlight, and the proper temperatures. But, to be honest, growing oranges is the easiest thing I do. In fact, growing the fruit is nothing more than an outgrowth of my very nature. I grow oranges because I am an orange tree. It is impossible for me to grow apples, or nectarines. No matter how hard I try, I will never grow either of those. But oranges, I was born to grow oranges. Any of my branches that will stay connected to the trunk of the tree will grow oranges. That’s all it has to do, stay connected to the trunk.”
While I wanted to explore some of the deeper aspects of oranges and trees, I began to realize that others were watching me, and that the orange growers were sending for a straight jacket, so I thanked the tree, picked another orange, and went on my way. But my conversation with the tree got me to thinking. You know, we are a lot like an orange tree.
When God saved us, He attached us to His Son, and created us to bear the Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus compares the life of the Christian to that of a fruit tree or vine. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. Any branch that stays attached to the vine will bear fruit. It is a natural outcome of being attached to Christ. In this passage, Jesus uses the word “abide” multiple times. The word “abide” means to stay connected to something or someone. We don’t have to try to bear fruit, but we must be diligent about being attached to Jesus.
So, how do we stay attached to Christ? Simply put, we do this by having our daily time with God. When we spend time with Him through His Word, prayer, and involvement in church, we grow closer to Christ, we become more like Him. Our character is transformed. This is the fruit of which Jesus is speaking, having the character of Christ.
Fruit has two primary purposes. God created oranges on trees for two reasons. First, it is the method of reproduction for the tree. The orange contains the seeds that create new orange trees. The second purpose of fruit is nourishment for others. We eat oranges. When Jesus calls His disciples to bear fruit, the reasons are the same. When Christ develops our character, He uses the fruit in our lives to draw people to Christ and create new believers. And our growth as a Christian is nourishing for other Christians in their growth.
Are you staying attached to the vine? If so, you will bear fruit!