Back in the day, my college cafeteria served gritty, dusty, grey grapes. Not kidding. But I had a solution- I dunked the grapes in a glass of water. Then, one at a time, I wiped off their charcoal, grimy exterior on a napkin. I went through a stack of napkins just to eat a few grapes. Black stains on those white napkins. Then I cut off the molded part where the fruit used to be attached to the vine. It is hard to think about. But I probably won’t ever forget it.
Why did I even bother? I guess I had to eat something. It felt like the healthiest choice even if it was covered in mold and pesticides.
A year later, I became very ill. Toxic overload. I could easily blame the chow hall grapes, among others. I stopped eating grapes for a long time after that.
But recently, I saw some grapes that looked too darn beautiful to pass up. Glassy, little green jewels. I splurged and bought the organic bunch. Worth it! They tasted pure and lovely. I won’t forget them either.
Many people have a bad experience like those grapes. They try to make it work, but finally get so sick of it they never want another grape again! It’s called an aversion. However, I am speaking of the sour grapes in the church.
Jesus told us to expect sour grapes, false prophets and teachers. So why are we so surprised when we stumble upon them? He told us many times to beware (Matthew 8 & 16, Mark 8 & 12, Luke 12 & 20). The Lord tells us that He never knew many who profess His Name, even many who perform miracles and cast out demons (Matthew 7:22-24). I can speak prophecies and all wisdom, but without love, I got nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). They look like sheep and yet are wolves disguised in sheeps clothing (Matthew 7:15). People in the pews who look like believers yet deceive many for the kingdom of darkness.
So just for fun, I searched Biblegateway for “grapes” and looky, looky what verse came up:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” -Matthew 7:15-18
Do the people in your close circle bear good fruit or not? Wheat and darnel look similar, but one bears fruit while the other is a choking, strangling weed. One gives life, the other seeks to destroy life. We learn that the crafty enemy came and sowed the darnel into the wheat field to choke the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). The enemy didn’t just thrash the whole field down. He was much more deceiving and suffocating. He knows being deceived does greater damage to the heart than being chopped down.
I wanted to write off grapes forever because of my bad experience. I thought all grapes were rotten after that. But I saw something that was too beautiful to pass up. Gave it a shot. And I was rewarded with one of the most wonderful refreshing cold juice to ever sweep my tongue! Now I know how real, life-giving grapes taste.
I’d be shocked if you have never been burned by those in the church or been hurt by bad teaching or maybe you decided you just don’t like women or men in general. Most of us have. But I gently challenge you today to remember how the enemy works in the field. Most likely you encountered the darnel and not the life-giving wheat. Maybe you got into a bunch of sour grapes and got so sick of them that you never want another.
Please, for your own sake, forgive. Forgive and seek out the rare and precious, true gems of God. Seek out a genuine community of faith, people full of the grace and knowledge of Christ and full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Trust me, they exist! And there is no fellowship sweeter or more refreshing.
“They will know we are his disciples by our love” (John 13:35).