Fruit that Never Rots

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Our God loves variety. Look how different we are from each other! That difference isn’t by accident. Our Creator doesn’t just scatter seed here and there to grow his people. He grafts us from, and to, His divine root. The Garden of Eden account has God grafting a mate from Adam’s rib. Maybe that procedure inspired Adam’s descendants to engineer the quality and variety of fruit we have in our grocery stores.

An online article on the art of grafting asks, “Why plant 40 different fruit trees when you can grow one single tree that produces 40 different varieties of fruit?” It tells of a fruit tree in California called the Tree of 40 Fruits, each branch of which hosts a different variety—plums on one, apricots on another, peaches on yet another. Up to 40 different varieties of stone fruits could be grown on this one tree.

The lower part of such a tree is called the rootstock, the article explains. It controls tree growth. The other section of the graft is the scion, responsible for qualities like variety, flavor and beauty. Scion is also defined as, “Descendant of an influential family.”

Rather than leaving human generation to the random scattering of seed, God enabled our potential for high quality by grafting us to his rootstock. Grafting not only helps ensure quality, but durability as well, the above-cited article explains. That may explain why God chose Saul (later named Paul after his grafting to Christ’s rootstock) to help spur growth of God’s love not only in the hearts of Jews, but in Gentiles and every other variety of human.

This didn’t make sense to Ananias, though—one of the early disciples entrusted with helping grow God’s love on earth after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 9:10-31). Why did the Lord enlist Ananias to secure one of the most powerful persecutors of the early Church–and graft him onto its rootstock of love?

So that Church would grow in size, scope and variety.

“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

Grafting is indeed a heroic method of growth, and suffering may be part of the process when involving humans, as in any form of surgery. But it also helps ensure the survival of the rootstock of God’s love here on earth. Jesus is that to our Church, and John tells us his survival in us rises above the simple seeding of words.

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. … And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them. (1 Jn 3:18-24)

John, Jesus’ favorite variety of disciple, learned the art of growing good fruit from his Master. He quotes Jesus:

“Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” (Jn 15:1-8)

That produce comes at a high price, but offers eternal value.

–Tom Andel


  1. This comment is from one of our founding BIC members, Joe Menkhaus:

    Another interesting thing about the tree analogy: the branches grow where the bark is the weakest or where it is damaged. So, the beauty and grandeur of the tree is formed only through its weaknesses. Thus, in our sinful world, perhaps it is God‘s way of making lemonade out of lemons–that our greatest beauty is formed through our greatest weaknesses.

  2. This is no garden variety message. The command by Jesus is simple and straightforward. “Keep my commandments, and follow me.”
    Simple, but not easy.

    We have a large capacity to miss the message and meaning of our life by choosing our own path. The road is wide that leads to destruction, and narrow to salvation.

    What choice do we have?

    • Thomas, your comment and Joe’s reminded me of poet Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” Frost was conflicted about faith throughout his life, although his roots were in Christianity. But researching his life tells us that four of his six children died before he did, and the other two battled emotional problems. That may explain his own battle with faith and depression throughout his life. Such a life presents many roads, and those who’ve traveled similar roads as he did often seek escape routes along the way. As Jesus teaches, the entrance to God’s Kingdom is not only narrow, but the road leading there is less traveled–probably because staying on it is so challenging. Frost concludes his “The Road Not Taken” this way:

      I shall be telling this with a sigh
      Somewhere ages and ages hence:
      Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
      I took the one less traveled by,
      And that has made all the difference.

      I trust that meant he anticipated happiness after all his painful lessons. He certainly inspired others through his poetic wisdom–just as the prophets and saints did. The map they drafted can make all the difference for people with a poor sense of direction.

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