Obedience: The Fruit Of A Healthy Relationship With Christ

Friday, February 21, 2014

bowl of fruit
If you have ever had a fruit tree in your yard, you have been given insight into how the kingdom of God works. When growing fruit, the majority of your labor and focus is not the fruit itself. If the only attention you paid to your fruit tree was when the fruit was ripe, your fruit tree would eventually get sick and may strop producing fruit altogether. The very nature of fruit is that fruit is not the focus--it is the result or reward of your hard work and is proof of a healthy tree.

Our spiritual life is the same. Too often we put all our focus and attention on the fruit that we forget the necessary process required to produce healthy fruit. If we put our focus and attention in the right place, we won't have to worry about the fruit. It will come automatically. I have never witnessed a fruit tree grunting and struggling to force fruit to come out the ends of its branches. I have also never witnessed a fruit tree worried sick about whether or not there will be fruit in the spring. If we carefully cultivate, water and nurture the tree we will be guaranteed and crop of fruit. The focus is on the process required to produce the fruit. For us, that process is living a daily lifestyle of relationship with Christ, the tree, of which we are the branches (see John 15). Jesus said that as long as we remain in him, we will bear much fruit. Again, the focus is the process, or the relationship with him.

Often times we go through life trying to manufacture fruit thinking that if we can just do things a certain way, then God will approve of us. We think that if we can change our outward appearance or lifestyle that God will approve of us and we will be fruitful. The truth is that this is backwards thinking. Fruit does not produce inward change, but rather, inward change is what produces true fruit. That inward change only comes through a life of interconnectedness with Christ. Jesus referred to this as obedience in John 15:10. Obedience is the way we abide or remain in him. But obedience is not simply following a set of rules of Dos and Don'ts. Obedience is an outward expression of our relationship with God. Here is an example. If ever presented with the opportunity to cheat on my wife I wouldn't respond, "Sorry, I can't. I'm married." No! I don't because it would go against my character based upon my relationship with my wife. I obey my wedding vows, not out of obligation, but out of a committed relationship with my best friend. I think you see the difference. Faithfulness to my wife is the fruit of a daily commitment to our relationship.
The challenge for us is to put our focus on developing a daily lifestyle of relationship with Christ which will lead to a life of daily obedience to him. Remember, obedience doesn't lead to relationship. Relationship leads to obedience. Not once in my 27 years of marriage have I ever had to remind my wife as she left for work in the morning to not cheat on me. That is the farthest thing from my mind because that would be so foreign to her character. It's not that she is immune, it's just that would be completely contrary to her daily lifestyle, of which relationship is the focus. A healthy relationship is not based on what we do or don't do, but who we are. Our actions do not determine our character, but rather, our character determines our actions. Therefore, obedience is developed when we walk in character with Christ.

Now it's your turn. What do you think?
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