When someone shows up in your life all of the sudden claiming to be different, we are immediately skeptical. We are cynical and we probably have good reason to be so. I think we are born as trusting, accepting individuals, but we are slowly exposed to the greater tendencies of human nature, which erodes our trust and gives us a consistent skepticism.
After all, how many time have you run across someone you know who has all of the sudden decided to change some major aspect of their life? (How many times has that someone been you?) We hear our friend wax about how life is going to be different, usually "from this day forward". They are going to lose weight, stop smoking, volunteer more, eat organic only, follow Jesus closer, stop swearing, eat healthier, drink less, drop the serial monogamy game, whatever...
We roll our eyes and resign ourselves to waiting it out. We know that 3 weeks from now
they're gonna be eating a double-cheeseburger and smoking a Marlboro while telling us how they can't understand how the person they just slept with all of the sudden wants to break up with them after they went out and had a few too many drinks last night and had a shouting match about whether pinot grigio could be considered &%@#^* organic or not.
We know better, don't we?
It takes a long time for us to trust that change is happening. I like to believe that the Creator anticipated that cynicism. Our litchi tree has been growing, for example. It sprouts new leaves daily, a product of my doting and the beautiful sun. The leaves spend a day or two as a beautiful red before becoming green like all of the others. They do, however, give us that visible proof that something new has indeed arrived.
Jesus said that we would be able to discern the difference between real goodness and false goodness (or change or growth or whatever) by the fruit that is produced.
We say we are going to go on a diet...weight should fall. We say we are going to volunteer more...we might actually have to wake up before noon. How many times have people told us of some great religious awakening, only to be the same as they were before after the newness of the religion has worn off? How many times did I ride the religion rollercoaster? The alcohol rollercoaster? The ups and downs only show us to be wishy-washy, incapable of sticking with a decision. The ups and downs only serve to render those around us even more cynical, to cast an even larger doubt over the veracity of our words. To break that cycle, we must begin living the words we spew out, we must begin producing real fruit, tangible evidence of growth.
Like the litchi tree...