On our daily run through the woods, my daughter and I passed a grove of Florida oranges. Each week the little, green oranges grew larger and larger. Soon they showed their familiar orange color.
It seemed this small field of orange trees had been forgotten. The grove did not seem to get any attention. The grass was not mowed, and it looked as if the oranges would just go unpicked and fall to the ground.
“Why waste them?” we thought.
We went to the farmer’s house, and asked permission. “Would you mind if we just picked a couple of bags for our own use?”
“Sure,” he said with a smile. “Take all you want.”
We went back home and got several empty bags, and went back to the grove. After picking a few, I suggested we try one, to see how they were. I took out my penknife and cut us each a piece from the largest, juiciest, orange we had picked.
One quick lick had us both spitting out all of what we had sampled. It was the sourest orange we had ever tasted. They were all too tart to eat, to juice, or for anything useful.
It seems a killing frost several years previously had killed the tree. After its death, a wild orange had sprung up under the graft. The graft is where a sweet fruit branch is spliced on top of a wild, sour, orange tree rootstock. The wild orange seedling was cut away, leaving only a sweet orange-producing branch. The root was from a wild, sour orange producing tree, but the fruit-producing growth produced only sweet juicy oranges.
When the good, orange graft had died, the “tree” resorted to its natural form. Although they looked like sweet oranges, smelled like sweet oranges, and even had leaves that looked very much like that of a sweet orange, the fruit was sour and inedible.
One of the biggest problems Christianity has ever faced is there are many “sour orange Christians”. They look and dress like Christians. They talk as Christians should, and even quote verses from the Bible. They go to church as Christians should, and maybe even carry their copy of the Word of God there. Many of their outward actions appear to be what God would want them to do. Others would even judge, from what they saw in their lives, that they were “good” people.
Inwardly, however they are like the wild orange rootstock. The fruit of their “Christianity,” if any resemblance of it is ever produced, does not honor Christ, is not in line with what the scriptures teach, and is too much like what the unsaved world produces. They claim to be Christian, but their life is not much different than the life of an unsaved person.
When one is truly saved, one is a new, different person as II Corinthians 5:17 tells us. Old ways and lifestyles are done away with, and are replaced with a new way of living. The changes are not superficial, because they are made from the inside. The new “inside” changes what the outside believes and thinks. Yes, the flesh is the same one obtained at birth, and still has the same weaknesses and temptations, but the new born-again (John 3:3) “insides” will help keep the old flesh at bay.
New and different “fruit” will be seen in a born-again person’s life. As the children’s song goes, “The things I used to say, I won’t say them anymore … the things I used to do, I don’t do them anymore … since I have been born-again”. The new, changed heart that is left when the Holy Spirit of God moves in and reigns in one’s life will produce new, goodly, Godly fruit.
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