The Gospels are filled with moments when Jesus warned the Jews that if they were not willing to bear fruit for God, He would remove them from the Church, and invite others to enter the Kingdom. As Christians, we are thankful that God has invited us to enter into His Church to become the New Israel, and receive the adoption as sons and daughters of God. But we should be careful not to become too comfortable with our entrance into the Church.
In the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21.33-42), after the continuous actions of greed and violence toward the King’s servants and the His Son, Jesus said, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” (Matthew 21.41) It has always been understood that Jesus was speaking about the unfaithful Jews and the invitation of the gentiles to enter the Church. But He was also speaking to the Church of today.
If God was willing to take His Church away from the Jews, His chosen people, because of their cold hearts and refusal to bear the fruits of faith, He will surely do the same for us in the Church today. As Saint Paul said, “Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.” (Romans 11.20-21)
So, what is the fruit that God wants us to produce? The fruit that God desires from the Church is, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5.22-24) When we live intentional and vibrant Orthodox Christian lives, the Church will produce these fruits, and the Church will grow into a great vineyard for our Master.
It is never too late to repent and begin to bear the fruit of faith for the glory of God. As the Bishop’s prayer during the Divine Liturgy reminds us, “Lord, Lord, look down from heaven and behold the vineyard which Your right hand has planted.” May our hearts never grow cold, and may the fruit of our faith always glorify God.