Fruit and the people who eat it

Discussion in 'Bible Chat' started by DaniH, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. DaniH

    DaniH You're probably fine.

    As a spinoff of another thread ... I would like to attempt a discussion about "fruit" from a biblical perspective.

    I say "attempt" because ... well ... I'm not all that good at adequately formulating them there theologies, for the most part.


    God made me aware some years ago that the fruit He grows in me isn't for me, but for other people. You might say "well, duh!" but it was actually quite an epiphany for me at that time because it "flipped a switch" in my thinking and perspective. So with that in mind ...

    We see God in Genesis planting a garden, filling it with trees, with the goal in mind that the trees bear fruit. With the goal in mind that the fruit was to nourish Adam, Eve, and whoever else.

    We see Jesus in the Gospels cursing a fig tree for the failure to bear fruit. Which at first makes me think "wow, Jesus, what did that fig tree ever do to you?", although I also understand that this was an object lesson for the disciples, because the expectation was that a fig tree's entire purpose is to bear figs, or it would just be a tree.

    Then there is Christ's teaching of "make the tree good, and the fruit will be good" in Mt 12.

    I read an article about Hans Kühn (a Catholic priest who happened to also be a good friend of Karl Barth's) and his attempt at resolving the "justification by faith/works" debate that has been dividing Catholics and Protestants for centuries. I found it pretty fascinating.

    It also made me think that perhaps the "earthly/here-and-now" goal of justification/salvation isn't the person experiencing such, but other people who will ultimately benefit from its "fruit". Because why else keep us here?

    If our "Christian works" are supposed to benefit the poor (and poorest of the poor, really), marginalized, downtrodden and oppressed, then shouldn't I maybe try to see the issue of "works" from their perspective also (or maybe even primarily)? We're all beggars before God in the end, and needy in our own right, regardless of our relative physical prosperity. I think it is important that Jesus stated to the church of Laodicea, which considered itself prosperous and in need of nothing, that they were, in His eyes "poor, wretched, blind and naked". Because He "knew their deeds", and it looks to me that His point of contention with them was that they made their prosperity about themselves, rather than about the poor in their community whom they were to help.

    If I'm a starving person ... and a Protestant comes up to me and offers me food every day until I'm adequately nourished ... the result is that I'm fed and no longer starving. Whether that Protestant offers this food with the idea of "works as a result of justification" is immaterial to the starving person, for all practical purposes.

    If I'm a starving person ... and a Catholic comes up to me and offers me food every day until I'm adequately nourished ... the result is that I'm also fed and no longer starving. Whether that Catholic offers this food with the idea of "works to achieve justification" is also immaterial to the starving person, for all practical purposes.

    If the starving person is fed either way, and the Protestant and Catholic have both fulfilled Christ's command to love their neighbor, then what does it matter as to the theological differences behind their offerings? If both trees are good and their fruit is good, then what's the problem?

    Just trying to formulate some things that are churning around in my head ... appreciate any thoughts you might share. Just trying to perhaps offer a different perspective, in that I think a lot of our theological differences aren't about us to begin with ...
  2. פNIʞƎƎS

    פNIʞƎƎS Connoisseur of Memes Staff Member

    I'm not very theological either, but I'd say that giving someone food when they are hungry is absolutely wonderful. However, if all we need is works to be justified, didn't Jesus then die for nothing?
    Just a thought from my untrained and uneducated mind.
    TrustGzus likes this.
  3. crawfish

    crawfish New Member

    A story...
    Around 20 years ago, I had a job with a startup company. They offered excellent benefits - competitive salaries and 100% family health insurance paid - which, considering they were living off the first round of funding, was pretty significant. The CEO explained it like this: "To get this company going, it's going to take a huge amount of your time, effort and energy. I want my employees to be as free of worry about financial and health matters as possible, because I expect a lot out of them."
    I think this demonstrates the idea of grace. God doesn't extend it so we don't have to do works; he wants us to feel free to do good works and not have to be afraid of our salvation. The bible makes it incredibly clear that providing for the needy, helping the oppressed, and giving to the poor, are what doing God's will on earth is about. We are the sowers, and God is the grower.
    TrustGzus likes this.
  4. TrustGzus

    TrustGzus Don't make me hangry Staff Member

    Sounds like Galatians 2:21....

    I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
  5. DaniH

    DaniH You're probably fine.

    Thank you for your thoughts, brother.

    I personally wouldn't go that far because a) works of charity for their own sake (instead of impressing others with our feigned benevolence or showing benevolence to satisfy some sort of religious or social conscience) require a deep work of compassion in the human heart to begin with, which God does, and b) Cornelius was a devout and righteous man who did many works of charity already, and who still needed Jesus nonetheless. Also, human history has taught us that man, left to his own devices, tends to lean towards anything but charitable works.

    I basically "grew up in church", but even so, as a teenager, my idea of "helping the poor" (who I thought lived pretty much in Bangladesh and Africa only) was to buy jute bags, and I considered myself a bit of a "social justice warrior" by using the bags and telling other people about the Bangladesh people. Ugh. o_O "The poor" were always "other people I didn't actually know who lived far away but who were to be helped anyway" in my mind.

    I believe that Jesus came as a physically poor man, identified Himself with physically poor people, and then died for all poor people; whether that poverty is spiritual, physical ... etc. I think that the more it dawns on us how poor we truly are before God, the more we will look to Him to bear His fruit in us. Because needy people who know they're needy, tend to become humble enough to a) be lifted up by God themselves, and then b) want to lift up others. I think that we have to recognize our true state of need to concern ourselves with the matter of salvation to begin with, and that once God not only rescues us from our own state of poverty but then also breaks the fear of poverty from us, we can share more freely than ever before.

    Which is why it's difficult to preach the Gospel to the already churched, and it's equally difficult to convince materially prosperous people of their need of God. Because who needs to look to God for their spiritual need when going to church and participating in churchy activities "satisfies" that already? And who needs to look to God for their daily provision when going to work, pulling in a paycheck, and then going to Walmart and buying whatever you want satisfies this also?
  6. DaniH

    DaniH You're probably fine.

    Yes, I agree 100%. I think that was a really good demonstration of what grace is all about.

    Also as human beings, we are truly "time poor". Compared to God anyway. Death (and with it, the end of our time here) looms over us from the moment we are born, and our time ticks away with every second of every day. And there is nothing at all we can do about it. And depending on when that fact dawns, is when a person often turns to God, who then deposits eternal and abundant life within us to "cure" us of our "time poverty". In addition to His other provisions that cure us of our other states of poverty. God gives freely and abundantly to free us from our fears and worries.

    So that when we are free from worry about our current state and our future, we can stop obsessing over both, and instead look around us to see who else could use some help.
    crawfish likes this.
  7. RabbiKnife

    RabbiKnife Open the pod bay door, please HAL.

    To the folks that eat th fruit, the intent behind the fruit is meaningless.

    To the fruit bearer, intent is everything.
  8. DaniH

    DaniH You're probably fine.

    Certainly, but whose fruit am I bearing anyway, and does my intent get to supersede the intent of the Grower?
  9. Guttenburg

    Guttenburg Synical at best

    Your reasoning sounds ecumenical. good works from a dark or deluded source?
  10. DaniH

    DaniH You're probably fine.

    I'm not sure what you mean? How can the fruit of the Spirit as borne out by caring for the poor and treating people with goodwill and kindness come from a dark source?
  11. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard Life is not a problem to be solved Staff Member

    Well, he did give you the benefit of the doubt and imply that you might be deluded instead. Or, he expressed himself very poorly. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  12. RabbiKnife

    RabbiKnife Open the pod bay door, please HAL.

    Intent is an issue of relationship.
  13. The Parson

    The Parson Your friendly neighborhood parson Staff Member

    Call me dense, but I'm not sure I really understand the OP. Are you asking if it's ok to take help from a Catholic or a Protestant? Sure it's ok. Does that count as good fruit? Sure it does. What does it matter as to the theological difference? Not one hill of beans difference. What does make a difference is who they're trying to produce the fruit for. If they're are doing it for mamma church instead of the Savior, they're on the wrong track. Receiving has absolutely nothing to do with the intent. If the intent is to work their way into heaven, it doesn't amount to anything for the giver but good works. I agree with Seeking...
  14. DaniH

    DaniH You're probably fine.

    The purpose of the thread is to engage in conversation and share our thoughts and understanding and maybe even learn a little from each other, that's all. :)
  15. The Parson

    The Parson Your friendly neighborhood parson Staff Member

    That's cool. I guess that's what I was doing. Continue on!:)
  16. BrianW

    BrianW Active Member

    It seems to me that works are the natural result of being born again. You have a renewing of the heart and mind, begin to develop and yearn for an even deeper and fuller relationship with God/Jesus that leads you to love Him more which in turn leads you to love others more.

    Good things follow. And you don't have to wonder or worry if you're being "Good Enough" or "Producing Enough." You never were and never will be Good Enough and it's God/Holy Spirit who will guide, lead you and convict you along the way.

    He is the carpenter and we are but the tools that He uses for His good purposes.
  17. Guttenburg

    Guttenburg Synical at best

    How can the fruit of the Spirit come out of a people who haven't a clue what it is to be born again?
  18. RabbiKnife

    RabbiKnife Open the pod bay door, please HAL.

    The fruit of the spirit certainly can't come from an unbeliever.

    However, even Jesus recognized that evil men can do good deeds as understood by the recipient of the deed.
  19. hisleast

    hisleast FISHBEAT!

    Holy cow its crawfish!? When did this happen!?
    crawfish likes this.
  20. RabbiKnife

    RabbiKnife Open the pod bay door, please HAL.

    3rd crustacean of the Apocalypse...
    crawfish likes this.

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