"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
0 items in your cart
$0
Blog // Thoughts
April 1, 2008

The Garden Of The Spirit

The metaphor of “fruits of the spirit” has always been for me one of the most powerful theological and spiritual ideas in Christianity. In part that is because it speaks so directly and concisely to what the character of Christian life should be. But, there is also an important (and often corrective) element of responsibility […]

The metaphor of “fruits of the spirit” has always been for me one of the most powerful theological and spiritual ideas in Christianity. In part that is because it speaks so directly and concisely to what the character of Christian life should be. But, there is also an important (and often corrective) element of responsibility in there as well.

That said, I’m often guilty of seeing this metaphor in a deeply personal and individualist light. So I was bothchallenged and encouraged to read Frank Rees saying,

“…I have found it so much more helpful to consider that the garden of the Spirit, where these fruits grow, is not each and every individual life, but in fact a community, the body of people who are alive in the Spirit. Here again we need to see that in the New Testament the word ‘you’ is almost always a collective, a group of people, a community of people, not individuals.”

I feel at least two challenges here. The first is to see the gifts not in an individualistic sense, but as something that happens collectively. It’sone thing to see these characteristic s in those we admire, it’s another to see them in the group we belong to as a whole, to see our ways of being as marked by that kind of grace.

But there is a further challenge – to be the kind of group or organisation that allows such human fruits to develop. That requires two things that we don’t often see in churches, permission and trust.

[tags] Spirituality, Ecclesiology [/tags]

Tagged
5
Responses
Toni 15 years ago

This doesn’t quite sit right with how I’d see this area. We’re using a metaphor of apples and oranges, as if they are individual and distinct items, ‘each tree producing its own kind’.

Are they fruits or fruit? To me a clearer understanding might be “when the Spirit has been at work in your the life the result is that you will show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control”. It also takes away the emphasis ‘I MUST bear spiritual fruit’ as if we can make ourselves do it.

I do agree there is a challenge to provide a fertile environment (there I go using the metaphor now) where it is natural for such behaviour to appear and be encouraged. It is something that all churches should plan for and encourage. Is this another area that would benefit from discipleship?

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

If you mean one person has one gift (but not the others) and another person has another gift (but not the others) then sure. That’s not the image I drew from Frank’s post and not one I would want to perpetuate. I’m not about rejecting the idea that the fruit should be manifest (or manifesting, or potentially manifest) in the life of each believer.

But, the challenge I want to embrace is to not see this whole metaphor in ruggededly individualistic terms. The first step in this is to see the church as an orchard! An empty field with one fruit bearing tree in it is not an orchard – it’s whatever you call an empty field with one fruit-bearing tree.

This draws us into the deeper challenge to see the fruit as both a collective responsibilty and a collective identity. An orchard is known by it’s fruit, there’s no confusion. We might not know exactly what variety it is (or from a distance exactly what the fruit is), but an orchard looks clearly different to a field (or dessert, or swamp!).

Toni 15 years ago

Looks like we’re thinking in the same field then.

😉

jay upp 15 years ago

“That requires two things that we don’t often see in churches, permission and trust.”

This seems to be my exact stepping stone in the church, gifts and fruits are great but if churches do not allow them to grow, they will die within the community they are created for.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Exactly.

Leave a comment

Enter your and your to join the mailing list.