From Henri Nouwen: Trusting in the Fruits

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work. We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made. But that is not the way of God’s Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross. There was no success there to be proud of. Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus’ life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit. The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.
What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.

Eugene Peterson notes that in contrast to the tower buidling of the Chaldeans and the Egyptians – Abraham, when arriving in the land promised him, digs wells. In starting this site – the temptation was there again to build something – create something, or achieve something. But, again I’m drawn back to digging well’s. Well’s are spaces of abscence which can accept Presence – not because of anything they do – but because of the absence created. When the wells are filled, it is then that they can bring life to others. The trees that bear fruit are also the trees that are well watered.


9 responses to “Fruit”

  1. Thanks Jonny.

  2. That’s powerful, and is echoed in house on sand/house on rock.
    But how does this tie in with (a) accountability and (b) J directing effort to areas where he could get results and restricting his message to those who were closed?

  3. thanks for the feedback Orion and Nick. I think my post coming in the next day or two may give pointers to that – but I think a big part of it is – ‘he can do only what he sees his Father doing’

  4. nickG – i just noticed the ‘accountability’ question you raised… I’m not sure I have any wisdom on the implications of that here… would love to hear yo’re thoughts.

  5. Interesting. I think the word ‘accountability’ kinda seems misplaced in this context – doesn’t god call us to confess, and to obey? And our obedience is often shrouded, even from ourselves – perhaps God ‘calls us to account’ at some future time, or perhaps (like a bank note) our obedience is like a promise (“I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of…”) whose entire economy depends on it’s not being ‘cashed’, which begins and ends in God. Hmm, I’m not exactly sure where this leads, but I think God’s economy, whether we think that in terms of acts, gifts, life, grace or bodies (which might all amount to the same thing) subverts the world economy of ‘accounts’.

  6. thanks again for your interactions!
    Orion – i agree, i think.
    If “accountability” is the right word – we are accountable to to be obedient and faithful. The danger, i think, with “accountabitiliy” is that it has become linked to particular notions of “success” and “results” – and these have been focus on statistical information. I wonder if this partly result from the dominant paradigm of the world and also the medium of computers (which pushes us to record things in spreadsheets and databases – which have no space for stories and ordinary lives lived.) – ?

  7. God’s economy certainly subverts and transcends ours. However, Jesus seemed to use simple economics a lot in his teachings, though often with a twist.
    I am challenged by the idea of God calling us to dig wells that others may one day fill. And God’s season for producing fruit is doubtless different from our own. But I also see when J warns about false prophets (Mat 7:16 – “by their fruit you will recognise them”) an implication that at least some of our fruit is discernible to others without waiting for 50 years of hindsight.
    So here’s a hypothetical example. If you put someone in charge of the soup run, but despite your prayers, instructions and generous supply of soup, it is consistently cold, spilled and doesn’t reach the needy, you would normally give someone else the job. God might push you to stick with the person, out of generosity or grace, but that feels like it would be the exception not the rule.
    So I’m not sure how to resolve this tension; maybe like many other kingdom tensions, we live with it and even embrace it.

  8. jonny/admin

    good reply. that’s forced me to shapen my thinking a bit.
    i may have mis-communitcated there but I understood the digging wells so be followed by God filling it with His Presence – the space becomes holy.
    I like the soup run example — thats forced me to think what i really mean. thanks! so…. yes, there is deffinitely accountability here – and I see that as the work of the faithful servant [Jesus has many parables for this] … I wonder though if this is how we hare faithful and obedient… and ‘fruit’ would be something like the eradicaion of poverty on our streets or everyone free from adictive behaviour – this is where we can admit our incompitance and need for God. [i think the story mentioned in the following post alludes to this]

  9. Nick, very good example. I’d agree that accountability is exactly what’s called for in that type of situation.

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