A Community of Love: Or, Why an Apple Tree Doesn’t Have to Be Yelled At

I’m still here…not dead yet. Hopefully I can now hit the ground running around here at DPS. 🙂

Aaron’s post yesterday got me thinking. “Christianity is about what Christ has done, not about what we do for Him.”

Fundamentally, I agree with Aaron’s statement. When we create a religion of response divorced from receiving the grace of Christ, we fall into the ditch of works-righteousness. The other pit is cold orthodoxy, where our “right beliefs” never do result in fruit.

I think this is why the idea of producing fruit crops up from time to time in the Gospels and epistles. If the truth of the Gospel has actually broken the hard ground of our stony hearts, our practice will reflect that change. Let me explain.

If you follow my blog, you already know that my controversial posts about homosexuality and the Church have earned me a forced resignation from work at a conservative Presbyterian elementary school where I worked last semester.

A very good friend of mine who has been hurt by the church commented recently that my friends in seminary have surrounded me, encouraging me in a way that made him “almost envious.” He appreciated their support of me, especially because they haven’t ever said (or seemed to think) that I ‘got what I deserved for being public’. Far from it. My friends in seminary have applauded me all the way for being honest about what the Gospel has done in my life, making it public in an appropriate way through a blog so that other can draw strength from the Gospel’s operation in my life.

My seminary friends are trees that actually produce fruit. No one had to mobilize them to accept me or encourage me. The Gospel necessitated that response. In the same way that a healthy apple tree doesn’t have to be yelled at in order to get it to produce fruit, a healthy Christian doesn’t have to be persuaded to reach out to others and encouraged. Reminded? Sometimes. Maybe even regularly. But not yelled at. And that’s why preaching “Go. Love.” simply doesn’t work. It’s trying to fix something that’s broken with a broken tool.

Instead, let’s encourage our people to love by preaching the Gospel to them, the necessity of repentance and the sweetness of the forgiveness of sins. That way, love will ooze out of their pores. Does that sound idealistic? Maybe so…but it’s what Scripture says happens when the Gospel is preached.

So what does repentance look like for you, pastor?