Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Fruit Harvest

My absence has been lengthy, making it easier for you to loose my thoughts than to find them. My neglect of sharing thoughts with you ends today. Hopefully you will share your thoughts with me.

Many people have asked me to post my thoughts about 'produce.' Gladly (see below). In our world of consumption, we need reflection on the produce of our life. When business and commercials and governments train us to consume, people are forced daily to produce. However, in the world of the Spirit, production happens differenlty. We open our hearts as soil for the seed of God. Inviting the eternal God to be present in us, God produces fruit in our lives. It is not our earning, but God's presence that produces spiritual life. The fruit of God's Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. No one can pass a company law against these. The presence of God's spirit means we begin to inherit the kingdom of God in the present.

Today I found an ancient text that pictures Gentleness. This story captures the balance between weakness and meekness, softness and strength. As you read this story, notice the rabbi's extreme love to a young man. The rabbi's love does not hold back on giving him an almost impossible challenge.

This is the story of a wealthy young man. You can imagine the type. He lives off a trust fund his parents established for him (a trusty-baby, as they are sometimes called). He has nothing better to do that hang out at coffee shops, philosophize about life and go to school. This wealthy young boy approaches a young, respected Rabbi and asks a meaning of life type question. "What can I do to have the good life forever?” asked the young man. He did not mean necessarily this life, but life that lasts beyond this life. The Rabbi from Nazareth told the man to keep the ten laws. For example, do not murder, steal, sleep with another man's wife, lie or cheat and take care of your parents.

The young man says through a coffee stain white smile, I have kept these laws. The rabbi looks at him and loves him. Catch that, the rabbi loves him! "You only need to do one thing," says the rabbi. "Go sell every last thing you own. Hand over the proceeds to the poor. Then, come and follow me." Utter Shock crosses the young man's eyes. The youth left shaking his head and grieving because he had much to sell.

The rabbi eyed the crowds and explained that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. The crowd was impressed with this young man blessed by God with talent and riches. Someone of the crowed asked who could actually enter the kingdom of God if this young man could not.

The Rabbi said plainly, "it is next to impossible for humans but for God anything can happen." (The Gospel of Mark chapter 10)

May you enter the kingdom of God today. Let go of your wealth, dreams and religion and let God rule your life. Allow God to produce fruit in you by His Spirit. Each day carry the name of one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit on your heart and in your pocket. Allow God to produce that aspect in your words, travels, projects, relationships, phone conversations, emails and driving.

The singular fruit of God's Holy Spirit (with my words of definition)
Love - central trait of God
Joy - celebratory living in God's presence
Peace - calm of life in God's presence
Patience - steady strength under restraint
Kindness - unrestrained acts of grace
Goodness - moral excellence in line with God
Faithfulness - belief that moves with God
Gentleness - courtesy that carries love
Self-control - discipline that reveals God-control