So it has been a while since I have written. Perhaps I have been too busy, too lazy or simply had little or nothing of value to write. It could be all or any of these things. No matter. This morning I was struck by a particular passage. You know one of those all stop moments when you were not really expecting it. I was reading through Matthew chapter 3 and thinking I knew what it was saying. Then it happened, I read verse eight and it was like the world stopped for a moment. The NIV shares Matthew 3:8 like this, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." Two words that change this passage greatly are in keeping. John the Baptist is being quoted as speaking these words to the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders, or better understood the church people. As a base understanding of John is repentance has taken place. Almost as if John is giving them the benefit of the doubt in regards to their relationship to God. Then this admonishment of verse eight comes. In keeping with repentance. Live a life that is consistent with the life change you have claimed.
The reason this passage stopped me was the challenge it stirred in me. Is my life producing fruit in keeping with the repentance I claim in Jesus Christ? My life is nothing like it was before my encounter with Jesus where I found life after death. Yet, the process of change continues. Over the last few years I have had an increased interest in Gardening. I love the idea of putting in the effort and producing our own food. Not to mention the taste of the food is much better than the mass produced mess from the grocery store. One of the things I have learned is in order to produce what I intend from the garden it takes time and effort and each year the work produces better fruit.
Producing fruit in keeping with repentance means the need to constantly and consistently anchor our lives with Christ. Reading the rest of the chapter John says, please allow a loose translation, being a part of the church will not really produce the fruit alone What matters is living a life that had been transformed for the sake of Jesus Christ. Imagine the horror of finding out you have been religious and faithful as a church member only to find out come cutting time you end up in the fire. This is not about church membership, it is about thinking church membership alone will produce the fruit in keeping with repentance. We are called to live our lives in such a way that the work of repentance made possible through Jesus Christ is evident. That our actions, thoughts and simply our way of being are producing fruit that is a result of having an ever-deepening, head-over-heels in love relationship with Jesus Christ.
Friends in our world to day the church does not have a membership problem, it does not have financial problems. It, we, have a Jesus problem. We talk about Jesus, but we do not live lives that produce fruit in keeping with repentance. It starts with repentance, turning our lives from our own understanding to a life that follows after Jesus Christ with reckless abandon. I believe all the smokescreen challenges we produce in the church would be cleared up if we would humble ourselves, repent and live lives that produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
If you are still reading you might be wondering what gives me the right to say these things. Nothing. I write these words out of being personally convicted by the Holy Spirit. I know I have so much growing to do if my live is going to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. I guess I was hoping I am not alone and could find others who might feel the same way.