Fruit Loops have long been on my list of favorite breakfast cereals, though I admit the list is hardly exclusive. If a cereal contains at least 70% sugar, it’s made the cut. But Fruit Loops stand out in that they’re vibrantly colored – like an edible box of Crayola crayons. Not only are they splendidly striking, but each and every hue ushers its own flavor. Now I understand the grape-flavored loop isn’t chiseled from an actual grape, but the taste is quite similar, or similar enough. At the very least, it reminds me of a grape, which has to count for something. Right? Being both colored and flavored as such, it must somehow channel the benefits of a grape, the nutritional value of the bunch. Naturally, we all know this isn’t true.
See, the Fruit Loops brand pulls no punches when it comes to its contents because it’s legally bound to disclose the information. And that is how I know Fruit Loops are artificially flavored. There isn’t an ounce of actual grape in a grape Fruit Loop, not a shred of real fruit. It is entirely fabricated and offers little to no nutritional value, not even a hint compared to its archetype. Our Christianity is often guilty of the very same.
Jesus was clear as to how we might produce real fruit, “Abide in Me.” He was just as clear as to what we’re capable of on our own, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” Yet so often we find ourselves forcing fruit where there’s none to be found – artificially flavored without a hint of value. We attempt days or even weeks apart from Him while going through the motions. Our souls recognize the cheap imitation and long for the nutrition of the true fruit found in a relationship with Him. And just as Fruit Loops can be considered an unhealthy option in relation to its intended source, so too can our artificial fruit do harm. Our actions independent of Jesus are not innately neutral, but rather starkly sinful. Again, we can do nothing without Him. We can produce nothing without Him.
If we, as followers of Christ, are to yield authentically organic fruit, we must remain connected to the Vine. The call to be grafted into Christ is ideal in illustrating how a useless stick can be used to produce the fruit of the vine in which it’s grafted. It further shows that when properly grafted, the branch has no choice but to produce fruit. It’s simply a byproduct of its connection. Artificially flavored fruit is not fruit at all.
Let’s be sure to produce real fruit the way God’s designed us to. Let’s abide in Him and forsake our fabrications.
“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23