One of my family’s favourite outings is to pack all six of us into the van and head down to Corydon Ave. We all eagerly race into Nucci’s gelati for a tasty frozen treat – we run because usually it’s raining when we all go – a weird quirk of this particular family tradition. Walking into that little shop and seeing the array of vivid colours lined up side by side fills my heart with love and my tastebuds with anticipation. All those amazing flavours beckoning to be tasted (favourites include Pistachio, Mullberry, and Tartufo Bianco). One delicious frozen treat, many mouth-watering flavours.
When Paul speaks of the work of the spirit in our lives the language he uses is that of fruit. He famously lists what he calls the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. It’s not a complete list of the Spirit’s work in our lives (scholars agree) – how could the work of God be summed up in a simple list?! However, he is clear that all these various fruit are rooted in one kind of fruit… kind of like a whole bunch of delicious flavours of gelati but it’s all one type of desert. Many flavours – one fruit. The Passion Translation says it like this:
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
This summer we’re going to be exploring these and other “flavours” of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Good fruit grows on healthy plants. While the good fruit our lives produce is ultimately a work of the Spirit we can either partner with or work against the Spirit’s work in our lives. How do we “remain in the vine” to use Jesus’ phrase (John 15)? What do these various fruit actually look like on the ground in the dirt of our actual lives? How do we cultivate good soil in which to grow?
We’re going to explore these and other questions as we look at some of the fruit Paul names. We’re going to explore how they are all really many flavours of the one real fruit of the spirit which is love itself. You could say we’re gong to look at nine flavours of love this summer. When we root ourselves deeply into God – that is, when we grow into his very character, we begin to produce beautiful fruit.
To whet your appetite, here are some of the themes we will be exploring:
- Cultivating patience in an age of hurry.
- Cultivating love in a world of indifference.
- Cultivating joy in happyland.
- Cultivating peace in a time of disruption
- Cultivating self-control in an age of greed.
- Cultivating gentleness in an aggressive city.
- Cultivating faithfulness in a rootless society.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matt 7:20
“These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:15