This morning I have been looking at the subjects for the next part of our morning preaching series. We are working our way through Luke’s Gospel – we may be some time!
This passage particularly struck me (it’s Jesus speaking…)
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:43-45)
The phrase that is particularly powerful is “each tree is recognized by its own fruit.”
I don’t wear clerical clothes. I am sometimes tempted because they make the wearer instantly recognisable as a clergyperson, and that may be helpful somewhere like a hospital when visiting patients or the University when I am chaplaining. But my general view is that I am no more special than any other follower of Jesus so don’t need to be marked out as such. So unless we all decided to wear clerical collars I won’t be!
In his Easter sermon (trailed the day before – why????) the Scottish Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien encouraged Christians to: “wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ on their garments each and every day of their lives.” I have some sympathy with what he was saying, but didn’t Jesus tell us to pick up our cross daily and follow him, not simply to wear one?
It’s when we are most actively doing that that people will see what sort of tree we are. They will see the fruit of the Spirit as we love unconditionally (even our enemies); are joyful in difficult circumstances; react peacefully to turmoil; are patient with irritating people; are kind to those who are rude; are good words come out of our mouth in response to unpleasantness; if we are faithful to others as well as Jesus, even if others let us down and break their word; if we are gentle in response to those who would enforce their opinions on us; when we are self-controlled in the face of temper.
It involves God-given self-sacrifice and humility to take up a cross that has those culturally unusual and uncomfortable edges and carry it daily.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
Whenever your children are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God’s omnipotence did not extend to God’s children. After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was: “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” Adam asked.
“Don’t eat the Forbidden Fruit.” God replied.
“Forbidden fruit? We got Forbidden Fruit? Hey, Eve..we got Forbidden Fruit!”
“Don’t eat that fruit!” said God.
“Because I am your Creator and I said so!” said God, wondering why he hadn’t stopped after making the elephants.
A few minutes later God saw the kids having an apple break and was angry.
“Didn’t I tell you not to eat that fruit?” the ‘First Parent’ asked.
“Uh huh,” Adam replied.
“Then why did you?”
“I dunno,” Eve answered.
“She started it!” Adam said.
Having had it with the two of them, God’s punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own…