Even after the difficult weeks of drought, even after my lawn and flower beds have been attacked by armadillos (#45 met his fate at my house this week), I looked at my red oak trees on Saturday and saw something astonishing. Clinging to the outstretched branches were resilient acorns. I examined the tree, saw dozens of clusters on all the lower branches, and could see others forming on the upper limbs. But that’s what you expect to see on oak trees. If you find no acorns, it makes you wonder what kind of tree you have.
My elm trees don’t have acorns. My huge bois d’arc tree has no acorns. Neither do the maples, magnolia, tulip, or crape myrtle trees. Acorns are distinctive for oak trees. So, anyone who stood in a yard nearby and claimed to have an oak tree would be mistaken if that tree produced no acorns, no distinctive leaves, and bark that are genetic markers for oaks. An oak tree bears the resemblance of oaks.
So, should a Christian bear a resemblance in action, choices, attitude, priorities, and morals to Jesus? The term “Christian” means “follower of Christ” or “little Christ.” A person who has experienced the grace of Jesus and responds to His call to “follow” begins to bear the resemblance of Christ. But in our culture, people often claim to be Christians, but that resemblance doesn’t appear. What would the Christ of history say about that? We know because the eyewitnesses recorded his response to the problem then. Describing those who pretend, Jesus said this: (Matthew 7)
16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”Matthew 7:16-20, NLT
So when we hear the right words that acknowledge Jesus but don’t observe any spiritual fruit, no evidence of the Lordship of Jesus in their lives, no reverence or respect for His instructions, we must then exercise the same caution of trust that Jesus advised the early disciples. And the focus of our greatest scrutiny should be in our mirrors, not through our windows.