The Pastor's Pen



You may have noticed recently that the weather here in the UAE has been cloudy and dare I say colder than usual? The reason for this is not only the winter season, but also because of the cloud seeding which is currently going on. “What is cloud seeding?” you may ask. Thanks for asking. Cloud-seeding is simply a method of artificially encouraging a cloud to produce rain.

Airplanes are fitted with special flares that are loaded with salt crystals and fired into clouds that have a rising current of air. The updraft then sucks up the salt crystals into the cloud, and they attract tiny particles of water that collide, becoming heavier and then fall as rain.

Last year, the UAE conducted 242 missions.  In a land that only receives 100 millimetres of annual rainfall, and obtains all its drinking water from desalination, it stands to reason why so much effort and expense is put into this project to ‘help’ the clouds produce more rain. Unfortunately no one can say definitely how successful the seeding missions are. The best guess so far is that these operations can increase the chance of rainfall, 30 to 35 per cent.

Imagine if these results were better. Imagine the UAE producing 1000 millimetres of annual rainfall. This would change the barren desert landscape to a lush, fruitful, green landscape similar to Ireland. For any land to produce fruit and vegetables, it needs rain.

Barrenness is something that the bible has much to say about too. Imagery of fruit bearing is something that the apostle John frequently used. In the natural world, fruit is the result of a healthy plant producing what it was designed to produce (Genesis 1:11-12). In the Bible, the word fruit is often used to describe a person’s outward actions that result from the condition of the heart.

Good fruit is that which is produced by the Holy Spirit. For anyone to produce fruit they need the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 gives us a starting place: the fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The more we allow the Holy Spirit free rein in our lives, the more this fruit is evident. Jesus told His followers, “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Righteous fruit has eternal benefit.

Jesus told us clearly what we must do to bear good fruit. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). A branch must stay firmly attached to the trunk to stay alive. As disciples of Christ, we must stay firmly connected to Him to remain spiritually productive. A branch draws strength, nourishment, protection, and energy from the vine. If it is broken off, it quickly dies and becomes unfruitful. When we neglect our spiritual life, ignore the Word of God, skimp on prayer, and withhold areas of our lives from the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit, we are like a branch broken off the vine. Our lives become fruitless. We need daily surrender, daily communication, and daily—sometimes hourly—repentance and connection with the Holy Spirit in order to “walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”.  Staying intimately connected to the True Vine is the only way to “bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14), to “run and not grow weary” (Isaiah 40:31), and to not “grow weary in well-doing” (Galatians 6:9).

One counterfeit to bearing good fruit is pretence. We can become experts at the routines, the lingo, and “acting Christian,” while experiencing no real power and bearing no eternal fruit. Our hearts remain self-centered, angry, and joyless even while we go through the motions of serving God. We can easily slip into the role of the Pharisees in judging ourselves by how we think we appear to others and neglecting that secret place of the heart where all good fruit germinates. When we love, desire, pursue, and fear the same things that the rest of the world does, we are not abiding in Christ, even though our lives may be filled with church-related activity. And, often, we don’t realize that we are living fruitless lives (1 John 2:15-17).

At the centre of our heart is a craving, a desire, a want, a need. If you try to satisfy your longing by sucking in the air of the world, you will not be able to drink the water of heaven. And eventually your motor will burn up because you were made to pump the water of God not the air of the world. God is the judge of even our thoughts and motivations. All will be brought to the light when we stand before Him (Hebrews 4:12-13). As fruit is unique to each tree, our fruit is unique to us. God knows what He has entrusted to each of us and what He expects us to do with it. Our responsibility before God is to be “faithful with little” so that He can trust us with much (Matthew 25:21).