In the Discipleship Adventure – Be PASSIONfruit… for the Sake of Christ

You and I come and go by different names. The one on our license or our notebook. Our baptized name. The names Christian, Seeker, Believer, Disciple. Each is a journey. Maybe disciple best captures that. It means: to be a follower… of Jesus. This movement leaves us all with a past, present and future. Part of my past: in my youth, my schoolmates knew me as “The Safeway Demon”, from high school through college a lean (125 lb.), mean, grocery clerking machine. My favorite task: produce! Supplying, displaying, trimming, etc. Best of the best: just watching the goofy ways we all pick good fruit: squeezing, sniffing, stroking, sneaking a taste. And my all-time favorite, laying a broomstaw on the spine of a watermelon. (If it lies lengthwise, leave it. If the straw pivots sideways, buy it. Weird! But, I’ll be, it works!) I knew every veggie and fruit and species of apple. But one thing I never saw or sold. Passion Fruit. O, I’d remember that! At 17 I’d have found that fascinating. I’d have figured it’d clear my zits, promise me more and better evenings with young ladies. Alas, ‘never happened. But then, I was spared the disillusion of learning Passion Fruit gets its name from the Spanish missionaries of South America. The inside of the fruit looked to them like a crown of thorns, so they named it for the suffering, sacrifice, passion of Jesus.

Wouldn’t you just know a preacher would somehow find a way to connect anything, even produce, to preachin’? Why not? Even Jesus did. Paul, too. Jesus says we will be known by the fruit we bear. He urges us to bear good fruit. Paul pictures the same image. He calls these the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. He contrasts these to the bitter fruits that deny us the kingdom. It turns out, you don’t have to be a Safeway Wonder, just a Wannabe Saint to have a vital interest in produce! Jesus does, too. For him, the best of the best is passion fruit. Granted, Mary may never have shopped for it, but Jesus did and does prefer it, even demand it over all else.

When Jesus calls for good fruit from us disciples, our passion is his passion. Jesus is not looking for us merely to be convinced. He

wants us to be converted. He really wants our all for his sake, for God’s sake! Ahh, passion for God in Jesus Christ! Have you got that? Be careful how you answer. I mean, do you really know what passion is? Passion = absolute affection plus unreserved energy. Absolute affection. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus while Martha’s out there in the kitchen, rustling those pots and pans. Absolute affection. A woman outpours perfume on Jesus’ feet. Remember his feet, wiped by that woman’s hair. Absolute affection. The healed beggar says, “Whether or not Jesus is this or that I do not know, one thing I do know. I once was blind, but now I see.” A father with a stricken child looks at Jesus. He says, “I do believe. Help me [please, as only you can] with my unbelief!” Thomas, implores the other disciples, “Let’s us go [to Jerusalem], too, that we may die with Jesus.” Absolute affection. Now add to this unreserved energy. Peter’s out of the boat, walkin’ on the water to meet up with Jesus. John’s there at the foot of the cross. Stephen won’t stop preachin’ and witnessin’ while they stone him. Unreserved energy. Paul will endure shipwreck, imprisonment, trial and guile and “endure unto the end”, the very last. John (in his 90’s, tradition says) receiving the vision we call The Revelation. Unreserved energy. Passion for God in Jesus Christ, have you got that? Absolute affection plus unreserved energy. This is a tall, tall order.

Says Jesus, the way you tell the true from the false teacher/believer is you look to their fruit. Is it good/passionate for heaven? How are we doin’? Bad news folks don’t really believe, much less bring the Good News of Jesus Christ. The little Letter of James, tucked to the back of our bibles still rings true, “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and hungry, and one of you says, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving the things they need, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Absolute affection plus unreserved energy. I give you Ruth Magellan, age 84, Jones Mem’l UMC, at Conference. I wish you could have seen the sheer joy in her radiant smile, framed by time-darkened skin and silver plaited hair. Many, a fraction her age (like me) fussing of fatigue, she, up with every song, hands lifted to her Lord in praise. You knew she knew by life and heart the meaning of the words, “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, ‘tis grace hath led me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

When we recognized the chaplain back from Iraq and spoke with thanks for God’s protection on those we send, Ruth rose. Bearing witness to the boys of her youth and of her age, and the Savior who watches each, she broke into Major John McCrae’s immortal, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below… we lie….” Every pore of her presence spoke absolute affection plus unreserved energy… passion, for our Jesus and his passion-from-birth. Peace on earth, God’s Kingdom come. Good fruit. Ruth has become PASSION Fruit for Christ. Let it be that more and more of us are on our way.

But be assured. You and I need not, do not, walk this way alone. The Spirit guides and gifts us for the journey. And the Church, the whole church, this church, is our companion and our inspiration. You recall that list of Fruits-of-the-Spirit Paul reels off? They aren’t just given to a saintly few. The Spirit gives them to the church in the struggle with the culture and the world.

  • LOVE To Overcome enmity
  • JOY To Overcome drink & carousing
  • PEACE To Overcome anger & party spirit
  • PATIENCE To Overcome strife, envy, jealousy
  • KINDNESS To Overcome selfishness
  • GOODNESS To Overcome impurity
  • FAITHFULNESS To Overcome idolatry & sorcery
  • GENTLENESS To Overcome dissent & party spirit
  • SELF CONTROL To Overcome fornication, license

I don’t expect you to grasp all that at one hurried hearing. But I invite you to your Bibles at home. Galatians 5: 18-23. YOU read the lists. YOU match the gifts to the guts-of the-human-dilemma, if I may say it so. The point is to see that we needn’t lean on our own goodness, but God’s-in-Christ to become the Good Fruit Heaven hopes to see. And you can see in those around you here (and elsewhere) those who have accepted these gifts/found their passion!

BE Good fruit! The BEST. BE PASSIONfruit! Why, take a taste of it today. The fruit of the grain: the wheat from the chaff, crushed like Christ to be bread for the world. The fruit of the vine: the cup of his blood, poured out in passion for you and for me. No greater love. No holier passion. For us! And for us to give… for all!

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