I recently remarked, after a particularly beautiful rain, that it was just what my raspberries needed. One individual who heard my comment asked me a simple question, “Do your raspberries have seeds?” I assume that his question meant that he did not appreciate seeds in his raspberries. I thought about Genesis 1:11, where God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself...” From the beginning, before the fall, God planned that fruit would have seeds. We live in an age where men have manipulated the Godly order of creation and have produced seedless fruit.
We also live in an age where the gospel is being manipulated. For example, in many churches it is expected that the sermon will be positive in tone and without confrontational or restrictive content. The book of Jude refers to those who emphasize grace, speaking great swelling words, yet have gone in the way of Cain. Cain was a man who wanted to be identified as Godly, yet refused direction that God gave him. From the beginning, the garden of Eden had both beauty and privilege to be enjoyed, as well as restrictive and direct commands to be heeded. God said of the tree in the midst of the garden, that “thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17).
The early Church, the Anabaptist faith, and much of our Mennonite heritage have emphasized and practiced both the abundant blessings of the gospel, but have also made applications and restrictions to the issues they faced. Many other churches have succumbed to gradually accommodating the pressures of their age to press in upon them rather than face the challenge of preserving our faith.
Sometimes, as leaders, we can feel intimidated with the small details and directions we need to give to our people. To some individuals, these details and restrictions are resented and viewed as unnecessary, like the gritty seeds in our fruit. We need to learn to appreciate both the inspirational aspects of church life and also understand the need for discipline and details. The church who fails to do so will discover a similarity between a church without discipline and fruit without seeds. For seeds in our fruit and discipline in our churches are integral ingredients to our future.
~ Ripley, NY