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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Elementary school in the 1960's


The world was different when I was in elementary school (early 1960s).
In the late summer of each year my mother placed orders for school
clothes from Sears and Roebuck or from Montgomery Ward.  Included in
those orders would be at least one new pair of blue jeans for me.
When I say "blue", they were very blue.  And stiff.  And the legs
would be so long I had to roll up the ends to keep from tripping over
them.  A few weeks would go by until those jeans were broken in

Jeans today are not the same.  I suppose it's possible to find "blue"
jeans, but most that I see in the stores are faded, ragged and limp-
looking.  The more expensive brands seem to have tears in the knees
and other places.  Walmart touts this trend by naming their own line
of clothing "Faded Glory".

I see faded glory in a vase at our house.  Less than two weeks ago the
white roses in that vase were a picture of beauty.  Now they're near
being discarded because the petals that were crisp and pure are now
wilted and browning.  I understand why.  Because they were clipped
from the stem, they were thus deprived of the nourishment that came up
from the roots.  Cut flowers can be beautiful, but only for a time.

Jesus took this idea of attachment and applied it to people.  Consider
His words in John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who
abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can
do nothing."

Just like cut flowers will fade after a short time of being separated
from stems, so grapevine branches will not produce anything of worth
once they are clipped from the vine.  The vine is their conduit of
nutrients and vital moisture.  Once severed, it's just a matter of
time before the leaves on that branch will curl and drop off.  You can
be sure there will be no grapes there when harvest comes.

People need a relationship with God just as plants need a connection
to roots.  Paul further developed this theme when he wrote about the
fruit Christians must bear: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control.  Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).
These are not fruit of people, but "of the Spirit".

Why is there "no law" against these fruits of the Spirit?  Clearly,
all of these are desirable traits.  Wouldn't you like for your next-
door neighbor to be a person of kindness, peace, gentleness and love?
(Or perhaps we should rather ask, wouldn't your neighbor like for you
to be this kind of person?)  The world, with few exceptions,
appreciates people whose lives bear such fruit.

Many, however, have allowed sin to sever their connections with God.
They still have stems and branches, but the good fruits they bear seem
to appear less often.  Eventually, their lives are cold and perhaps
even mean.  How did it happen?  They're not abiding in Christ.

Is it time to reconnect with the Lord, to reestablish that flow of
needed nutrients so the fruits of the Spirit can again flourish?  It
all begins with this truth stated earlier in Paul's letter: "For you
are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you
as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26,27).
Have we put on Christ?

Timothy D. Hall

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