Staying with the tree metaphor, now that I have been transplanted in the fertile soil of Jesus Christ, nourished by the Holy Spirit, I have become a new creation…a new tree if you will. The question then becomes, what will I produce as this new tree? Will I produce fruit or thorns? Of course, by definition, there is only one correct answer here; you cannot be a new creation and produce anything but fruit because it is not “you” doing the producing but the Spirit within you. Jesus once said that many will call Him LORD and He will say I don’t know you (Matt. 7:21-23); these folk, sadly, are not new creations, though they may wish it so. Some may sit in church pews their whole life and know who Jesus is (have knowledge of Him) yet have never had a personal encounter with the risen LORD.
I believe that I am producing fruit now. I am orthodox. I am still teaching an adult Sunday School Class nonstop for over 35 years. I have written accurate articles on the Trinity, Holy Communion, death, sin, and hope. My first book, entitled “I Am, the Great Creator God”, published in 2010 by Muskrat Books. The book is aimed for those seeking real answers about who God is and why they exist. The book deals with theology and cosmology; and hits head-on such light-weight subjects as evolution verses creationism, the Big Bang, and the concept of time as a dimension in the universe. In addition to writing, I have preached sermons, conducted a funeral. I am an Elder in the Disciples of Christ Christian Church and have even served on the Regional Church Board. I am a tree with good roots. I still do and will always seek out good nourishment for I am still growing in Christ. For as Paul said:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12 ESV)
While I believe there is such a thing as a “just war” to remove evil and protect the innocent, I don’t hate any group, race or religion. I was not always bearing fruit. I have produced a vast number of thorns in my earlier years, but people can change. I think by anyone’s definition, I am now producing fruit, but my main drive is only to hear my God say, “well done my good and faithful servant”, for it is the LORD’s will and not my own that I strive for. I give God the glory.
My thorns have been mainly in the way I have treated my family. I have always treated others with respect and tried to be honorable. In business, I have treated my clients and contractors openly, “on top of the table”, not hiding any agendas or planning any maneuvers. I am definitely not good at the ugly world of politics or the art of the manipulation of others. I treat everybody as an honorable man should. If I make a mistake, I admit it and fix it. I have always said that the mark of a true professional was not whether or not you ever made a mistake (because everybody does), the mark of a true professional is revealed in how you recovered from the mistake. This sadly for the business world, leaves you vulnerable, taken advantage of, and people can and will “pile on” in this litigious society of ours. As a Christian, you can not act any differently however, so make your choice: fruit or thorns, which will it be?
I actually had people say, “you’re too nice, Haven”; I never liked hearing that, because shouldn’t everybody try to treat others as you would like to be treated? In business, maybe it is true that good guys finish last, though there are many exceptions, but my contention is this: I’m not working for other people’s glory; I’m working for the glory of God. Given the choice that we all have, ask which is the better path to take? Are we searching for earthly rewards that will soon turn to dust or do we strive for eternal rewards that never fall away? For me, I chose the path less traveled; it is the footsteps of Christ I chose to follow. A person will always bear fruit when connected to Jesus Christ. Jesus said:
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:27-29 ESV)