Alright, already the title can be misconstrued. I want to be straight forward here. When I’m talking about Fruit, I’m talking about the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23:
“The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (NIV 1984)
Notice that the Fruit of the Spirit IS these things. A pet peeve of mine is when people call it the “Fruits of the Spirit” as if they could have one piece of this and not the others. As if they’re allowed to have love but not self-control or goodness. Instead, the Fruit of the Spirit is like an orange. It’s one piece of fruit with many wedges. As a follower of Jesus, we are to bear this fruit in our lives. How often do we bear this fruit though?
The first wedge in the Fruit of the Spirit is love. And as a follower of Jesus, I am supposed to bear the fruit of love. To be honest, this can be tough to do too. To bear the fruit of love means I have to actually put myself out there and be willing to show love to others. Not just the pop-culture kinda love that we have out today. The just love one another and we’ll all be good type of love. That’s not the love that’s mentioned here. It’s not the type of love that I’m supposed to have. It’s a different kinda love. It’s a hard love to have but it makes all the difference as a follower of Jesus.
Jesus tells His disciples:
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8
Then just a bit later Jesus says:
“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17
Jesus tells his disciples that the fruit that they are to bear is a fruit that will last (John 15:16). This fruit is the Fruit of the Spirit and part of this fruit is the aspect of love. This love is beyond what we think of love. As John and Paul said (The Beatles, not the apostles) “All you need is love.” That’s the fuzzy feeling love. The love that we’re talking about here is called agape (uh-gah-pay) love.
What is agape love? This is an all inclusive love that is like family love but greater. It’s the love of God for His people despite themselves. It’s the love that only a mother warthog can have for her ugly little kid and see the beauty in its face. That’s agape love. And this is the love that we as followers of Jesus are to show to prove to the world that we are followers of Jesus.
But this love can be hard. It can be taxing. It’s easier to like things. To like people. It’s easier sometimes to tolerate someone and call it love. To tolerate something is to put up with it even though you don’t like it. To love, to truly agape love, is to love someone despite themselves. It isn’t putting up with something, it’s looking past that something and loving them regardless of what irritates you.
As Christians, we fail at this type of agape love a lot. We fail to love as Jesus loved us. And we’ve paid the price. Our name has been smeared. The messengers have tainted the message. We’ve become evangelical gerbils (okay, that’s an old post you can check out here). Instead of going forth into the world in the agape love, loving our neighbor as ourselves, we’ve retreated into subgroups and attack those who aren’t like us. That isn’t showing agape love. That’s creating an us vs them mentality.
Church has become a club instead of a mission way station to help the hurting and the poor. Church has become a place where we come to be fed like toddlers who don’t like broccoli rather than learning how to feed ourselves in God’s word. We still require spiritual milk rather than the true substance of what God wants us to have and to be. All because we struggle with agape love.
Bearing the fruit of agape love is hard to do, but as a follower of Jesus (when we trust in Him by the Holy Spirit), we can overcome the obstacles and truly love that agape love.
But how? It begins with the conscious effort to love your neighbor, to agape love your neighbor as yourself. To love them as God loves them. And from there slowly move forward. It begins with acts of kindness, but that’s for a ‘nother post. But when we do, we will show the world that we belong to Jesus, when we love others with the agape love of Jesus.