Jesus wants us Christians to be fruity.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 January 2024

Yes, I know what “fruity” tends to mean in our culture. No, I don’t care. I’m taking the word back. Fruity fruity fruity.

Fruit is a metaphor we see all over the New Testament for behavior. The way Christ Jesus describes it, if you’re a good tree, you produce good fruit, and a rotten tree produces bad fruit. I’ll quote him:

Luke 6.43-45 NRSVue
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil, for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”

His apostle Paul didn’t care to even call bad behavior “fruit,” preferring to call ’em “works of the flesh.” Ga 5.19 But the scriptures’ general idea is there’s good fruit and bad. People are fruity in one way or the other.

And if we’re truly following Jesus, we should see the good stuff. Right?

John 15.1-8 NRSVue
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

In the quote above, it sounds like it’s possible to produce no fruit, good or bad. Which isn’t better. Jesus tells another story about a fruitless tree:

Luke 13.6-9 NRSVue
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the man working the vineyard, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good, but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

Those who produce no fruit—nothing God can use, anyway—are getting disposed of. “Gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned,” is how Jesus put it. Jn 15.6 Being fruitless is functionally the same as producing bad fruit. God wants fruit!

So if we truly follow Jesus, we oughta be super fruity. Our lifestyles should be filled with christlike behavior. Filled with proof of God’s influence on our lives: We should share his character traits, which Paul called “fruit of the Spirit.” Ga 5.22

And yeah, to some degree we should also see some supernatural stuff. Like miracles, prophecy, healing, and so forth, ’cause God’s kingdom isn’t all about philosophy and talk, but God’s power. 1Co 4.19 Stuff happens when God’s among us. But when he’s not—’cause we won’t include him and never bother to follow him—stuff doesn’t happen, and fruit isn’t visible.

So when a person claims to be Christian, claims to follow Jesus, yet their lifestyle is no different than any pagan who has no relationship with God at all—worse, if they’re jerks, or downright evil, and try to justify their dark behavior and beliefs with Christian-sounding excuses—we’re dealing with hypocrites at best, antichrists at worst. Fakes either way.

The true grapevine.

Why does Jesus call himself the true vine? ’Cause clearly there are fake ones. There’s not just one vine in the vineyard.

There are all sorts of things we Christians feel we oughta plug into. (If you’ll permit me to use an electrical metaphor instead of a farming one.) Some of these outlets aren’t bad things. Getting into bible is good. Sorting out our beliefs, and making sure our theology is solid, is good too. Listening to influential, motivational preachers—either reading their books, watching their YouTube channels, or going to their churches—can be good. Going to church, getting involved in charities, helping the needy, doing good deeds—it’s all good. But plugging into those things is like plugging extra stuff into your laptop’s USB ports. Is your laptop plugged into the wall? No? Then you’re gonna drain its power.

Here’s where I’m going with this: The things we Christians do, which’re meant to bring us closer to Jesus, sometimes don’t really tap into him. Often Christians turn these activities into substitutes for Jesus. When we take Jesus out of our religion, it becomes dead religion. And now let me switch back to Jesus’s vineyard metaphor: Religion ain’t the vine. Fellow Christians aren’t the vine. Our churches aren’t the vine. Our charities either. They’re branches. Jesus is the vine.

In Bruce Wilkinson’s book Secrets of the Vine, he rightly pointed out the Father tends the branches which don’t produce. He doesn’t just cut ’em off and burn ’em up right away; he’s gracious you know. When branches touch the ground they’re not gonna be productive: Every living thing on the ground consumes it. So a vinedresser lifts them up (to quote Jesus, αἴρει αὐτό/érei aftó, “he lifts it up”) and ties it to a lattice. This bit tends to be translated “he taketh away” (KJV) with the assumption the vinedresser’s pruning already. Not every interpreter knows viniculture—which isn’t wise considering how often Jesus tells farming parables. The rest of Wilkinson’s book goes on and on about how profound this is: If you’re not fruity, no it doesn’t mean you’re going to hell. God’s still working on you! There; saved you $8; $14 hardcover.

But hold on there, little buckaroo. If God’s truly working on you, you’re gonna be fruity. Period.

True, maybe you aren’t so sure you’re fruity. We can be awfully hard on ourselves. If so, go find another Christian with an objective viewpoint. If the Spirit’s really in your life, they’ll notice visible fruit. If it’s not there, repent! Stop resisting God, obey Jesus… and check back later. Incidentally the fact you wanna please God, counts as fruit; so there’s that. Just never be satisfied with that. And never stop the self-examination: Test everything, cling to everything good, 1Th 5.21 and repent of the rest.

When we stay in Jesus—when we plug into him like he’s plugged into the Father—Jesus tells us, “Whenever you want something, ask.” Jn 15.7 Many of the Christians who “name and claim” things—who believe we Christians have the power to call things into existence, because supposedly that’s what Jesus means in this quote—tend to skip the caveat Jesus attaches to this ability. Jesus could do as he did because he stayed in the Father. Had he gone his own way (which is really hard to imagine once you get to know Jesus), then made similar demands on the Father, he couldn’t have done squat. Yet Christians pull this crap all the time. We don’t obey Jesus, figuring grace has us covered. We make no effort to stay in him. Yet we expect our wishes to be granted every time we rub God’s magic lamp. He doesn’t work like that! We must stay in Jesus. We conform to his behavior, his way of thinking, and seek his kingdom first. If that’s the goal, we get requests fulfilled. Not as a reward for good behavior, but because we think like Jesus… and because we’re not asking for the typical stupid, short-sighted requests of fruitless, irreligious Christians.

As it is, the reason we get the dumber requests we make granted as often as we do… is dumb luck. We’re not that evil, so we ask God for things he won’t really object to. We coincidentally line up with God’s will. Which is pathetic; we oughta deliberately line up with his will. We’re meant to learn his will and do it; thus our every wish will line up with God’s will, and he’ll be pleased and give us his kingdom, and he’ll receive honor because Christians are his true followers.

That’s Jesus’s idea. Let’s implement it. Let’s get fruity.