I had been sick of class before but this was the first time class made me sick. Temperate Zone Pmology was the course and it was about all things apples. Exciting right? My professor was an apple tree breeder and we had become his lab rats. Three times a week for this period we ate apples, smelled apples, critiqued the crispness of apples, evaluated if they bruised and gave opinions of the taste nuances and color appeal of the apples. I had so much roughage in my diet that…never mind. Fruit critiquing was the last module of the class already having been subjected to pruning, grafting pesticides and critter control plus the business aspects of producing apples and their myriad of products.

To start the class, we had a whole section about roots of the apple trees. The instructor showed us examples of diseased trees where the very tip top of the canopy was dying back and wilting. He would send someone scurrying to the top to retrieve an affected twig and leaves having us speculate on the cause of the dieback. After our pseudo intellectual attempts at diagnosis the professor seized a shovel and dug around the trunk showing us the offending colony of wholly aphids sucking on the roots by the thousands. With the roots viciously attacked the ability to absorb and transport water or nutrients to the far reaches of the tree became impaired causing the visible plant top to die. So, his mantra began, good roots make good fruit. When a rootstock was found that resisted insects, diseases and was sturdy in the wind it was selected regardless of the quality of the fruit. Starting with the root the apple breeders carefully grafted in pleasing apple varieties for a final creation. Can you realistically expect the best potential fruit if the tree is unsustainable because the root system is faulty and fails?

In our Christian lives and communities we have the same principle working. There is a specific entity and quality that we must be grounded and rooted in that realistically gives the potential for quality sustainable fruit – love. In Ephesians 3:17b-19 Paul gives a clear plan for a healthy Christian individual or church body. And I pray you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. I suspect that any person or church that is completely filled with the fullness of God would epitomize the definition of Good Fruit.

Is your goal for you and your church to be good fruit? How awesome and attractive would we be if everyone professing to be a follower of Christ was filled to overflowing with the full measure of Christ? Could we all safely say that is our goal? Then we must intentionally plan where we are rooting ourselves. Is it possible to be rooted in something that is itself good and will even bear some good fruit? I have seen churches rooted in good works, others in positive traditions while others yet rooted in excellence of worship in attracting numbers to hear the Gospel message. Our caution is to not be rooted in these lofty goals but to be rooted in the love of Christ allowing these goals, then, to flow out of that love relationship. Rooting ourselves in love allows forgiveness, grace and understanding that is so necessary when people work together. When not rooted in love could it be that a church may become about the event and program or the worship atmosphere and numbers and our standard of success becomes a measure of them? People will know that we are followers of Christ by our love for one another – not the success of our events. God’s desire is that we be so tenaciously rooted in love we can effectively and vigorously battle the attacks assaulting us. As Christians we must fulfill the mantra – good roots make good fruit – and the roots must thrive in love.

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This weekly devotion is written by John Key

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