Saturday, August 29, 2009

Of Cherries, Olives, Stems and Love

As I wrap up my resolution this month ("Producing Fruits, Not Just Works"), an analogy came to mind that I really like - something which I had not considered previously. I hope it sums up for anyone who reads it how I have come to view the central concept of "by their fruits ye shall know them". (Matthew 7:20)

I grew up in orchard country - processing cherries, picking apples and apricots, eating fruit straight from the vine or the tree. A cherry tree is a great example of the production of fruit, and as I relate the basics in very simplistic terms, I want to draw a simple correlation between the orchards near which I was raised, the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5 and the manner in which spiritual fruits are produced in our own lives.

First, the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5 talks repeatedly about the Lord of the vineyard pruning, grafting, fertilizing and preparing the olive trees to bring forth good fruit. It is full of action verbs - words that involve active, direct, intensive, careful planning and hands-on work. It is NOT a "natural process" - but, rather, it is a very unnatural process, instigated and completed by connecting branches to trees and hoping the grafts "take". If that happens, fruit is produced.

When you look at a young cherry tree, the most obvious element is the trunk - off of which the rest of the visible form extends. The root system is hidden under the ground, but the branches and limbs and twigs often grow so extensively that they rival the trunk - and, eventually, draw the eye away from the trunk and capture the attention of the observer. What is missed upon first glimpse - and even upon a closer inspection - are the stems that connect the obvious tree to the cherries that hang thereon.

The stem is the tiniest of "appendages" - short, thin elements that sprout almost invisible and from which the actual fruit grows. Until the observer gets really close and pays particular attention to detail, the stem remains hidden - and yet it is through that stem that the life-giving force within the tree creates the fruit that allows the tree to "fill the measure of its creation".

If there is a true vine, and if we are to be the fruit of that vine, we must be connected through a similarly "invisible" stem - the connection through which the sap of life can flow to us and make us the fruit of the vine - that can take our plain, hard seed and create a beautiful, soft, delicious fruit from that seed.

Now, read John 15:1-17 - with a particular focus on exactly what fruit is produced through a connection to the vine. In that context, look at the reference to keeping His commandments - then read Matthew 22:36-40. At the most fundamental level, I believe that being connected to the true vine can be boiled down to obedience to those laws upon which hang ALL the law and the prophets - and allowing the Holy Ghost to make of us whatever fruit we were created to become.

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