I expect you have heard the expression “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” (or some derivation of it), but what if the opposite were true?  What if one good apple could save the whole bunch of rotten ones?  Wow, can you imagine how that might change the entire apple industry?
This is a rather backwards way to approach another question of greater importance: As you live in our world today, do you focus more upon the problems or the solution?  I view one of the major problems in our world to be antagonism.  This word comes from a Greek one that means “to struggle against.”  Synonyms include hostility, friction, enmity, dissension … I think you get the picture.  I see it as the cause for violence, the way politics are currently handled in our country, and the many different faces of our culture wars.  Bring one antagonist into your space and how do you react?
And then there is the story of Jesus … one good apple!  From heaven he looked down at the whole bunch of us on earth and what did he see?  You know, nothing but rotten apples!  So, what did he do?  He jumped right in (we call this incarnation).  And now, consider the result!
As Jesus enters into an individual’s life, that “rotten apple” is able to say, “I’m good!”  He transforms us.  With Christ in us we know we are forgiven.  We are valued.  In spite of the rot that still remains, Christ in us makes all the difference in the world.  We need not fear any form of antagonism as it draws near.  Those rotten apples cannot contaminate us because we have Jesus in us.  In fact, the affect might actually be the exact opposite!
What is the opposite of antagonism?  I like the word friendship.  While antagonism means to struggle against, friendship is to “enjoy being with”.  And that is how Jesus works in each of us … in this world filled with rotten apples.  He befriends us, and in this friendship we are changed from rotten apples into good ones.  This is how Jesus works in us … and through us … in spite of us still having many rotten spots … and in spite of the fact that we still “struggle with” him in many ways.
This is what I see as I read the Gospels.  His story is introduced this way: “The true light (Jesus), which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1.9-14) His glory is seen as he makes friends with all the rotten apples … without even taking the time to classify them as bad or good.  And what happens?  Instead of them making him rotten, many become good.  With them, we end us singing, “What a Friend We have in Jesus!”
Antagonists always work on separating the bad apples from the good … according to the antagonist’s definition of who is “good” and who is “bad”.  Jesus however, instead of calling out the bad apples, befriends us all … and his friendship transforms “all who receive him, who believe in his name.” (John 1.12) And, in spite of all their struggles with him, he never stops befriending anyone.  Even as he hangs from the cross, he reaches out to the antagonists who are in his face, saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23.34)
So, my friends (and fellow rotten apples), I would like you to consider looking at our world filled with antagonists with a much friendlier eye.  The reality, whether we wish to accept it or not, is that we are all “bad apples” who are in the process of being transformed by the friendship of Jesus.  Even when we reject him … or antagonize him … he reaches out to us as a friend.  His friendship makes us into good apples (yes, right now, though the process will not be completed until our final resurrection).  And, as his good apples, he is sending us out to become friends with every antagonist and bad apple we find … because with Christ in us, we know that “there is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4.18)
Instead of just changing the apple industry, Christ Jesus is here to transform the entire human race.  He never classifies someone as a good apple or a bad – so we probably shouldn’t either.  He simply befriends us all (and I do mean all) – so perhaps we should do the same … as we pray that “he who has begun a good work in us” (Philippians 1.6) will do the same through us in them.  I don’t know about you, but as good as this sounds, I know that before all this, I need to start with another prayer: “Jesus, thank you for calling me friend instead of rejecting me as an antagonist.  Please help me to do the same with all whose lives and views I struggle with … apples, good and bad. Amen.”

Apples – Good + Bad