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A Desire for Urban Fruit

Why evangelize in difficult urban areas?

by Andrew Davis on May 03, 2022

Christianity in the city.
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." - John 15:16

 

Again and again in the Bible, the Lord urges His people to produce fruit, a harvest for His glory:

John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” And he said that every tree that did not produce fruit would be cut down and thrown in the fire (John 3:8, 10). Many of Jesus’ parables were agricultural, with the goal being a good harvest. The Parable of the Sower ends up with good soil, producing a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown (Matt. 13:8, 23). He cursed a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit (Matt. 21:19). He likened God to a farmer, Himself to a vine and his people to branches on that vine. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2). In the Parable of the Vineyard, He likens the Jewish people to tenant farmers who will not give the owner (God) his harvest, and who beat up or kill everyone He sends to get it (Matt. 21:33-41). The end result is that God will rent out the vineyard to some farmers who will give Him His harvest. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews spoke of land drinking in rain and basking in abundant sunshine, but that ultimately produces only thorns and thistles is in danger of being cursed by God (Heb. 6:7). All of this is abundant evidence that God desires His people to produce the fruit of the Kingdom.

Now what do we mean by “fruit?” John MacArthur once divided Christian fruit into two categories: attitude fruit and action fruit. Attitude fruit is described beautifully in the list Paul calls the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. Action fruit is any form of Spirit-empowered obedience to God’s commands. Like if a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church and gives himself up for her consistently in acts of service, this is “action fruit.”

Other passages seem to indicate that “fruit” or a “harvest” can be seen in evangelistic terms—people brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. The apostle Paul speaks of this kind of fruit when he says that he has longed for a long time to come to Rome so that he may have a “harvest” among them as he has had among the other Gentiles (Rom. 1:13). Since he goes on to speak of his obligation to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles alike, it is clear that he sees souls won to faith in Christ as “fruit.”


 

"We desire to see souls won to Christ, who are then trained in the faith—built up into full maturity through the ministry of the word, who themselves show 'attitude fruit' and 'action fruit.'"

We desire to see all of this happen in the community that surrounds every urban church. God has sovereignly placed my church in downtown Durham, NC, for a purpose, and part of that is to have a harvest of fruit in this urban community. We desire to see souls won to Christ, who are then trained in the faith—built up into full maturity through the ministry of the word, who themselves show “attitude fruit” and “action fruit.” We desire to see that kind of fruit develop in ourselves as we engage in this ministry. It is no secret that this kind of ministry is very challenging. Engaging in this kind of ministry has made us acutely aware of the kinds of struggles that the people we are seeking to know and to bless are facing in their daily lives. Those challenges include but are not limited to various addictions, broken marriages, difficult parenting problems, under-employment and unemployment, and other economic issues, and of course the crime and immorality that surrounds them daily. It is in this urban harvest field that God has called many churches to labor as He produces “fruit that will last.”

Tags: evangelism, missions

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