This is a picture of my hydrangea. It is just to the right of our front porch, greeting me every time I come in and out of the house. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t impressed – I don’t expect you to be because, honestly, I’m not either.
Every time I go past this bush, I can’t help but evaluate it. I am glad that it is large and green and still alive. At least it takes up the space nicely in the flower bed. And I love the one flower that is there and am glad it finally bloomed. But I also can’t help but be disappointed. Because a hydrangea is supposed to be more than this. It should be covered with blooms. My bush is full of unmet potential.
These thoughts remind me of some of the letters to the churches at the beginning of Revelation. To Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira, the Lord begins by praising them – “I know your deeds . . . you have perseverance . . . I know you hold fast My name . . . I know your love and faith and service.” But then He says, “But I have this against you . . .”
A couple of weeks ago I was passing my disappointing hydrangea and the thought struck me, “I hope I don’t look like this bush spiritually.” As believers, just as my bush is nice and green and full, we are alive in Christ and no longer dead spiritually. And we can have a little fruit just like my one bloom. But we were made for so much more than that. Just as I look at my hydrangea and know it’s not supposed to look like that, as believers we are supposed to bear much fruit – not just a little. But are we content to settle for less?
Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16 that He chose us so that we would bear fruit and that our fruit would remain. When Jesus says, “so that”, He is indicating part of our purpose. Just a few sentences before that, He tells the disciples that His Father is glorified when we bear much fruit (John 15:8). That is how we prove to be His disciples. It’s not just by being green and having one bloom and feeling good about being a “good Christian”.
Paul gives us some specific details on what this fruit looks like. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul also tells the Romans in Romans 1:13 that he wants to come and obtain some fruit among them which implies that we also bear fruit by sharing the gospel (see also John 4:35-36).
Jesus tells us how to bear fruit in John 15:4-5. It comes as we abide in (rely on, depend upon) Him. As we do that, we will naturally bear fruit just as a hydrangea naturally bears flowers or a peach tree naturally bears peaches.
Of course, abiding isn’t the problem for my hydrangea. I think its problem is the gardener! Thankfully, that is not a problem with bearing spiritual fruit. The Father is the gardener and He is perfect at it, knowing exactly how to prune to enable us to bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
This is a picture of my friend Jill’s hydrangea bush. She posted it on Facebook earlier this summer. The contrast is amazing isn’t it? This is what one is supposed to look like, covered with beautiful blooms. This is what I dreamed of when I planted my bush several years ago.
Just as I hope that I don’t look spiritually like my plant, I hope that instead I look like Jill’s, covered with blooms of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. I hope that people don’t look at me and think that I’m a “good Christian” but are also aware that there is something lacking, that there should be so much more. I pray that the Lord will never be able to say to me, “I know you have some fruit, but I have this against you . . .”
Are you blooming all over?