Formation Fridays: The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...
I'm not much of a gardener. I want to be. There is something in me that yearns to plant things, to cultivate them, to help them grow. Maybe it is my family's long history of farming. Maybe it is a desire to connect with nature. I can't say for sure, but I know that apartment living makes this desire difficult to attain.
But I've been reflecting on this idea of helping things grow and the Fruits of the Spirit. In this scenario, God is the gardener, and we are the plants being cultivated and cared for. What's more, I've come to realize that what Paul calls the Fruits of the Spirit are all divine attributes. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all qualities ascribed to God. So as we grow in our life with God, we become more like God. God imbues us with divine qualities. We know that our human bodies are already the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Jesus was the Christ, the Word made flesh, with God from the beginning (Genesis 1, John 1). The Godhead, it seems, cannot not be united with humanity and the rest of creation. God is constantly active, constantly faithful, constantly transforming us from the inside out.
The technical name for this (for those of you who fancy such things) is theosis or divinization, depending if you are an Eastern or a Western Christian. The idea is the same: through grace, God (and by God, I mean the Trinity--the three never act apart from each other) transforms us into God's own-likeness. All humans are already made in God's image, but God continues to mold and shape us more and more to look, act, and think like God. Crazy, right?
Now, why say all this? Well, I do think there is some truth to the old adage that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. We see it in children, who take on the personalities and attributes of their parents. Heck, they even look like them. I've been doing a lot of self-examination around this idea: who do I look like? Do I look like more like Jesus? I've been especially convicted of this as I have reflecting on the idea of gentleness and just how counter-cultural it is. Our culture is forming and informing us about who to be, how to act, how to think, and how to respond. But is that formation in line with God's will for our lives? Does that formation produce the same fruits that God wills for us to show?
I would contend that often it does not. The fruits of the Spirit fall from God's tree. Our efforts cannot produce that fruit; only God can. The Great Gardener is wanting to prune us, to cut back the extra so that what is pure and true can produce fruit: the Fruits of the Spirit.
So, who do we look like? What tree are we under? Are we under the tree that our culture, our nation, even our communities want us to conform to? Or are we under God's tree, producing God's fruit?
May you be filled with God's hope as you journey toward Christ's likeness,