Imagine that you have a large tree in your yard and that this large tree produces fruit, but the fruit produced is always rotten and worm infested. At first you attempt to pull down each piece of fruit one-at-a-time, but as you circle the large tree you find that the rotten and worm infested fruit multiplies quicker than you can pick it. Finally you decide that, though you love the large tree in your yard, it has to go. Rather than a large tree that continuously produces rotten and worm infested fruit in your front yard, you rent heavy equipment and yank it out of the earth roots and all, and plant a new, more beautiful tree in its place. And the new, more beautiful tree produces the perfect fruit every time. This illustration exemplifies the difference between religion and faith.
Religion, by its human design, makes of its adherents self-proclaimed fruit inspectors. It distracts the faithful by insisting that each piece of fruit must be removed, one-at-a-time until only good fruit is produced and found. It has made itself ineffectual because it misses the fact that, diseased fruit is produced because that which produces the fruit is diseased. Religion can mandate every moral/ethical code that it wishes, but regardless of the amount and veracity of the fruit inspection, regardless of the numbers and the determination of the fruit inspectors, the ability to produce good fruit is not there. To our core; down to our roots, humanity is rotten and worm infested. Perhaps the desire to produce good fruit it present (doubtful, however), we have not the nature to produce anything that can be considered “good” (let alone, “perfect”).
Faith, on the other hand, does not begin at the fruit. It begins at the roots; at the core of the human nature. Faith, in its wisdom, knows and understands that the fruit-making system is broken beyond repair. Faith desires not to become weary in addressing a single sin at a time. It has no interest in the self-defeating act of fruit fixing. It realizes that only one action will remedy the situation. It recognizes that repair is not an option. Faith reserves itself to the necessity of death in order to produce a living mechanism of perfect fruit production. The sinful and fallen human nature must be addressed if we are to change the condition of the fruit produced. Faith is that which removes the power of sin by disabling the power conductor of the fallen nature.
The same diseased roots, which produce rotten and worm infested fruit, of the large tree are at the core of religion – the fallen nature. Faith pulls the large tree out of the earth, roots and all. It replaces the large tree with a new, more beautiful tree, which produces perfect fruit every time. Step back and look at the new and more beautiful tree that has been planted. Do you recognize this tree? It is the Cross of Christ! The roots of this tree are faithful. In fact, they are the Faith of Christ. That very same faith that drove Him up onto His tree produces faithful fruit in us when we bear our cross; for it is the same faith that was in Christ, when God was reconciling the world to Himself – the perfect and perfectly reproducible fruit of the Tree of Life.