I was watching an old TV show on Netflix the other night and a character had a great line, “Act like you have faith and faith will be given to you.” It was the author’s paraphrase of the amazing words of Christ in Matthew 21:22. I like the way how God’s Word Translation puts it: “Have faith that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)
Christ gave us this guidance after an incident with a fig tree. Bottom line: He found a fig tree to have many leaves but no fruit. It was a worthless tree. The purpose of the Christian life is to produce. And, by saying “have faith, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” Christ is telling us to be bold in our belief. He is looking to see if we act in faith in the way that He directs. Our acts, our produce is the proof: do we believe? Do we have faith? Are we producing anything?
Or, are we just trees with leaves and no fruit?
As I read Christian references on Facebook and in emails, I wonder if we are just getting good at “feeling” Christian or “looking” Christian. For example, how should I react when I see a Facebook posting or receive an email of a picture of an amazing sunset with comforting scripture? Do I recognize the voice of the God of all creation, the King of Kings, or do I just enjoy the picture and get a nice warm feeling in my soul? Do I daily step out in faith, believing the word of God?
I struggle when I see Holy Scripture alongside swear words on websites or Facebook pages. It breaks my heart when I see a life that is only producing leaves – no fruit. I recognize the characteristics of that kind of life for I lived it and I strive to never be there again. I mourn when I see prayer requests forwarded without any indication of personal faith, without a belief that the God to whom we pray will answer our prayers. I worry that we may be distracted with the pleasant appearance of leaves, forgetting that if there is no fruit, the tree is not fulfilling its God-given purpose: to produce.
Leaves cover up the tree for a season, but then they are gone, leaving the tree bare, the branches visible. A tree that does not produce fruit is cut down and its place in the orchard given to another.
And, just hoping for fruit to appear in our lives is a vain pursuit.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Friend, I am praying for fruit from our lives. It starts with uniting with Christ.