I had an interesting conversation today with one of my teammates. We were talking about the desire to see spiritual fruit emerge in the lives of the youth, parents and volunteer leaders that we serve. We then began to discuss the difference between synthetically and naturally produced fruit. Many of us would be aware of the emerging organic vegetable and fruit sections in our local supermarkets. The difference between this type of fruit and the chemically engineered stuff is quality over quantity. Engineered fruit is often larger in size, produced more quickly and potentially lasts longer. Yet the nutritional value of this food is lacking when compared to that of the organic variety.
I think spiritual fruit functions in the same way. Fruit that is synthetically produced may look better, ripen quicker and be more prevalent, but is the quality still there? If we agree that there is a growing season for everything, why are we so determined to rush fruit into production? Part of this demand for fruit may be attributed to the external pressures we feel to measure our success in ministry based on life change, but it's also due to our own need to see tangible results for our efforts.
Being a pastor, a parent, a husband and even a human being means learning to live with tension. I cannot control or manufacture the response of my wife, kids or ministry members to the presence of Jesus, but I can influence this response. The question I am left asking myself is this: Am I engineering synthetic fruit, or am I helping to produce the organic stuff?
If my role as a follower of Jesus is to be who I'm created to be, to inspire others in their faith journey and to love and live like Jesus, am I willing to wait for spiritual fruit to ripen in its' season, or will I try to force fruit to emerge through synthetic means? My hope is that I do not underestimate the power of God's Spirit at work in and through me, and that I may be willing to follow the Spirit's promptings that will bear fruit in its' season.