FRUIT DIAGNOSIS: For the 21st Century Church

Disclaimer: I am not writing this because I fully understand it, but I am compelled by this thought and I hope this essay serves as an invitation to the thinking table.

I like to believe that as we grow in the Christian faith, we are constantly learning. This means we are constantly coming in contact with truth. However, I have found that sometimes, things that struck me as profound still hold that essence even as I learn other new things.

This might be true for just my experience, but it is worthy of mention because it gives us a great rationale to kick-start this thought process. I cannot remember the exact time, but I cannot forget the power behind the truth of the difference between the gifts of the spirit and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Simply, it goes that gifts of the Holy Spirit outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are manifestations that are instant and sporadic in nature. Thus, the main difference they have with the fruits of the Holy Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 is that fruits are products of growth and they are consistent in nature.

This difference might seem simple enough, but it has evolved so much in my mind over the years. One thing that has been a hard pill to swallow is what Jesus said about fruits;

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.

Matthew 7:16-20 (NKJV)

I called this a fruit diagnosis.

If you are following this first point, I am sure you can put together that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are in effect of more consequence to the believer because they prove the presence of the Holy Spirit. This applies to many other things in life, and I find that this form of diagnosis is not as novel as I would like to present it.

In hospitals, symptoms are sought out as proof of an ailment or healing, we make sweeping comments about situations and people based on the results they produce and rightfully so. This is because fruits do not exist in a vacuum. If there is smoke, it is proof of fire. If there is a fruit it is proof of work, time, and a seed.

With this in mind, we can move a step further and ask; is there any sense in treating some fruit? By this, I am asking if it makes sense to treat a symptom or put out smoke. The very thought of it seems out of place because we don’t do this for good reason. I believe the reason is that fruit is proof of something else in the background. Thus, if some fruit provides you a diagnosis of an ailment, your response should not be applied to the fruit but to the problem, it is in fact pointing you to.

If you want the smoke to stop, you put out the fire; if you want the symptoms to stop, you treat the sickness. If you want to fix the fruit, you need to go to its source.

I find that in the 21st century Church, we tend to do the exact opposite of this common-sense approach. We see a flaw in our neighbour, but we go ahead to hack at the flaw which is a fruit of something else and we never address the real issues. This has given birth to so many weird laws and doctrines.

These injunctions while made with good intention, are very much harmful in the long run because while they might seem to address the flaw, they lead to long-term hurt, and most importantly, they never solve the problem.

Paul had a little issue with this concept in his day,

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Colossians 2:20-23 (NKJV)

I would like to end here but permit me to do a bit of an over-emphasis. Going at people’s actions for the sake of the actions is either going to frustrate the person or imprison the person and it will not deal with the underlying issue. As a church, we need to come to terms with this and humbly undergo a re-orientation.

We must start looking to apply treatment where it matters most – the seed.

I believe that Jesus gave us a great example in doing this. In John 4:4-42 we see the account of the encounter of Jesus and the woman at the well. In their conversation, we learn very quickly that Jesus knew exactly who this woman was. He knew her wrongdoings and told her quite clearly that he did.

The thing that should strike us as odd is that for the rest of their conversation, Jesus never brings it up. In all of his instructions to her, he doesn’t ask her to leave her husband(s). He does something better; he addressed her heart’s questions and typically, transformation followed. It is noteworthy to mention that Jesus never shied away from correction, but it will do you much good to see the kind of instruction he gave. He never corrected actions for the sake of it; he always addressed an underlying mind-set or heart issue.

Thus, his instruction always pointed to solutions that would not only fix the fruit, but will heal the source.

I think we struggle to follow the perfect example of Jesus because seed instructions are not as dramatic or way too dramatic as fruit instructions. Even in a tree, cut off its bad fruit and everybody takes note but give it time and the faulty seed will produce yet another bad fruit. However, if the farmer addresses the root of the issue, it might demand taking down the entire tree or checking the seed before planting.

As a growing Christian, I have troubles with this drama imbalance too. I read the story of the rich young ruler and I can relate with the heaviness of heart in making such a dramatic change.

I also read the story of Naaman and I relate with the scorn that clearly said, “It can’t be that simple”.

I am however convinced that this is too important to give up on. So, I am writing this to other Christians in my century and beyond. We have to learn to leave the fruit and start looking at the seed.

I will end on this note. The further you go into seeking the source of a problem, the more you will find the nature of flesh and it can feel helpless because actions don’t change our nature; Paul told us that much.

However, remember what we said earlier about the fruits of the Holy Spirit? This is where they come in handy. The most important source to fix is the nature from which you are living. There are only two options: the flesh or the Holy Spirit.

If and when you decide to go with the Holy Spirit, you learn very quickly that it is work that is done in you. Your role in all of it is to surrender to the work and believe that it is for your good.

In the end, if you stay in the process long enough, you will notice your fruit changing and you will take no credit for it because the fruit is proof that the Holy Spirit is at work in you.

EZEONYEKA GODSWILL

SPIRIT SCHOOL

Swallow your pride, tonight, and come to the spirit school
There is a spirit in man, God’s breath gives it understanding
Mortal man, do not drown in ignorance, do not be a fool
If your intellect is tested by fire, can it remain standing?

Swallow your pride, come to the spirit school, tonight
Break free from the shackles of conformity to deception
Do not resuscitate the days of babel, and forsake the light
For the spirit of wisdom already forsook them at its conception.

Swallow your pride, come to the school of the spirit
Abandon to the whirlwinds your theories of existentialism
Let Yahweh give your foolishness a limit
Exfoliate the banality of all this your redundant idealism.

Swallow your pride, tonight, and come to the spirit school
Shed the tattered garment of human knowledge you cherish
Let the Holy Spirit; God’s Sceptre, make you a new tool
To save your brotherhood of brethren, before they perish.

– El Ebovel
(c) 2021

You exist not just because you were made

You exist not just because you were made.
You existed in the mind of God long before the world was made.

An idea that sprang to life in the factory of your mother’s womb. Your life didn’t begin at the hospital or where else you were born. It began with God.

I mean, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. How huge is that!

A GIANT OF A MAN YOU ARE! So live from where you first existed.

You are a mind blowing idea from a mind blowing God!

Ijeoma Obi
© 2021

Letter to Ola #1

Dear Olaedo,


In my previous letter, I asked you to evolve and leave behind things you have outgrown. Let me tell you about what I outgrew recently.


I constantly try to understand myself, why I do the things I do, and why I think the way I do which most times are different from how others think.


I read a story of a self-sufficient man. He wants just enough to feed himself and his family. He doesn’t care about being a global figure or being on the Forbes list. I guess we can call him a family enthusiast. He would rather spend every day at home with his family than leave them to make money he doesn’t need.


I’m not that man. I am a few years away from thirty and it worries me that I am not anything near the Forbes’ under 30 CEOs or any recognition close to that. I try though. I search for opportunities and utilize the ones I can. Ola, I want to make money, travel, live the good life, and above all, make an impact. I felt money is necessary for the kind of impact I want to make. But apart from the cliche of living an impactful life, I just like shiny things and luxury.


The way life ought to be was pretty obvious to me. I would get married of course. I love Love. I would have perhaps a kid or two because let us be honest, taking care of kids require time. My husband and I would build an empire because we are goal-driven and ambitious. And we’ll live happily ever after.


It turns out life doesn’t always go as planned and I was wrong about what life is all about. As you would expect, I am financially intelligent. I am shrewd in spending and I’ve learnt investment strategies so when I lost millions to a bad investment just a year after my NYSC, I had to start all over again. It was hard but not disastrous. I still had a job.


The disastrous event was my parents’ divorce. They loved each other or they seemed to be in love. After fifteen years of marriage, they split. It tore my idea of a perfect life. I was depressed and confused. I hated the feeling. It was easy to decide to see a shrink because I am a logical person and it seemed psychotherapy was what was going to fix my mind.


I read a post on Twitter that said ‘The Holy Spirit is my therapist’ and I scoffed. ‘As if I don’t pray too. The occupation is there for a reason’. Therapy is expensive but I hated feeling shitty so it passed for a good investment for my mental health. After one month of therapy, nothing changed. My therapist used phrases like ‘you religious people would say…’ and I had to sift his advice to see which isn’t deviant from my Christain faith.


I intentionally didn’t seek a Christain shrink because I didn’t want a religious person. The effect of a religious shrink is as bad as a secular shrink. One seeks to put you in bondage while the other seeks to make you use your freedom as an occasion to satisfy the flesh.


My friend said I hadn’t healed because I hadn’t prayed enough and I wondered what amount of prayer would be ‘enough’. I had prayed. I like a good challenge so I decided to pray ‘enough’. I never understood fasting as a means of receiving from God because I felt if God is my father, I could ask with faith and receive.

However, I decided to turn up fully gauged for this praying ‘enough’.


I started fasting without a stop date in mind. I planned to stop was whenever I got healed. I had exhausted all my options and the only option left was praying ‘enough’. I had nothing to live for and I wished I could die. I prayed earnestly with all that was in me. I lost weight but that wasn’t important. I told God I would go for months and years if need be and I meant it.


I surrendered everything because I was really tired of handling the affairs of my life. Life lost its taste. In the place of prayer, I learnt that I could ask God for direction and trust him to direct my path. Nothing in the world is constant. You could have a perfect husband, house, kids, money, and lose it all in a heartbeat.


A man’s heart is where his treasure is.’

I saw myself in the rich man that got angry and turned away when Jesus told him the way for him to enter the kingdom of God was by giving away all he had. I placed the essence of life on physical things – marriage, money, fame.


Ola, ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ is not a cliche. He healed my mind and gave me a new purpose that I thought I always had. The same purpose.


By the time I lost my job to the COVID-19 retrenchment, I was already fortified with blind trust in God. I have handed over the wheels of my life to him. It turns out I don’t quite enjoy driving so I am occupying the back seat now.


The peace I have is beautiful and it beats any luxury I could ever have.


Don’t misunderstand me. I still like luxury and the good life. I still seek and grab opportunities. I am still working to be on the Forbes list but without any of these things, I will be as good as I am with them. Like Paul, all things that were gain to me I counted loss for Christ.


Christ is the only constant in a world where every other thing is inconsistent.

The assurance of salvation I have in Christ is all that matters; which is why I wonder how people who believe they can lose their salvation cope.

The struggle they must be going through!!! We should teach them, Ola.

With Love,
Mama.

-ChyD
© 2020

Here And Now

Here and Now
Here and now,
I stand tall with my head high
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
Here and now, I live in freedom for I no longer hide behind a mask
Grace has exposed my flaws and inadequacies
But He has given me a face to shine
Here and now, I have chosen grace over everything else
And the Holy Spirit empowers me
To live daily, my best life.

Ijeoma Obi
© 2020

Sunday Perfect

Praise the Lord
I knew I shouted in response
But for the life of me I wonder
Why my eyes are closing in slumber
Maybe we should get a more interesting pastor
And I’d get more from my day at church

So I believe all that he says
But he has no idea what I’ve had to face
Its easy to talk when on that stage
Tis so sad but I’ll listen anyways
Maybe we should get a more compassionate pastor
And I’d get more from my day at church

My shoes hurt and I’m already hungry
We should be done by now one could imagine
So the fact that I zone out is no mystery
Might as well do something else, anything really
Maybe we should get a more time concious pastor
And I’d get more from my day at church

Wow wow oh wow I think my mind has gone numb
Our Pastor is absolutely the bomb
But I have not a clue what He’s shouting about
I’m trying sincerely I am and still dont know
Maybe we should get a more down to earth pastor
And I’d get more from my day at church

Like seriously… not again
I feel like last week cos this service is exactly the same
Am I the only one tired of this routine we run
Whatever happened to the dynamism and creativity in us
Maybe we should get a more flexible pastor
And I’d get more from my day at church

Oh my God, I cant believe he said that
He should know better after all he is the pastor
Hasn’t he heard, hasn’t he read or is he just clueless
oh no, he said it again nonetheless
Maybe we should get a more informed pastor
And I’d get more from my day at church

I always thought the worth of our day at church
Depended on the choir or the pastor that preached the word
See church was always meant to be a gathering of believers
For fellowship, cohesive growth and strength the Holy Spirit our teacher
Just maybe if we could all look up to Jesus and no one else
Everyday would be worth more to a perfect end
and then I will get more from my day at church.

– Ezeonyeka Godswill
(c) 2016

The Comforter

When we met I gently opened myself and allowed him in, I couldn’t wait for him to explore my body and soul. 

Like an engine in need of oil I needed his lubrication to get me flowing. He didn’t disappoint, it’s not in his nature to. 

He touched me here and there, overwhelming yet satisfying I stayed put uttering words I was not taught to speak 

Devilish!

This must be devilish I thought 
Confused, I jerked up binding and casting, asking for forgiveness, I could imagine him in shock saying “what is my lover doing”?

I really didn’t care, my sanity was primary at the time. 

“Lord can you hear me” I screamed more 

“Do you consent to this”?

Silence was all I got until I looked down and saw the words Be Anxious For Nothing 

Suddenly it dawned 

The Spirit within 
The comforter 
The awaited day 
A new form of communication

by Imani Dokubo (2019)

M&M- Gifts pt 3

We would now go to the other 3 gifts that say something.I would like us to go through the scriptures, check out these gifts and then if you have any question as pertains the study, you can just ask and get a reply.

The gifts that say something

*Prophesy

*Divers kinds of tongues

*Interpretation of tongues

PROPHESY

The simple gift of prophesy have been mistaken to be FORE TELLING. That is not a right way to think else you would run into the cofusion of trying to differentiate between the gift of prophesy and the word of wisdom.

Prophesy is FORTH TELLLING. It is not to predict some certain events in the future, but just speaking out by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in a language we understand. Paul said in 1Corinthians 14:3 but he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exortation and comfort.

That is exactly what the simple gift of prophesy is, when you speak with an unknown tongue no one is edified, but if you interpret in a known language, you have prophesied.

In Acts 21:9-10 a distinction was made between some daughters that prophesied and then a man named Agabus who was a prophet. And being a prophet or any of the other ministerial gifts is not a portfolio, they are all jobs. I think we would get into that pretty soon because everyone has been called to ministry and it is full time too for everyone.

I hope I was clear on the gift of prophesy? Now I would show an example of prophesy from a place in the bible to show there can be no single fore telling and it would be prophesy. How many of us have manifested these gifts but we do not know because we have been ignorant of spiritual things, Paul doesn’t want that for the Corinthian church anymore than God wants it for us. Lets look at it Luke 1:67-79

Verse 67 says “and his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying

Now if you read through you won’t see any specifics on fore telling, but he spoke forth divine things as the Spirit enabled him. Am sure if anyone had listened, they would be very edified. That is an example.

Lets take the last two gifts together

DIVERSE KINDS OF TONGUES AND INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES

These two gifts are the only gifts exclusive to the church, the gifts exclusive to the new testament.

It is as simple as it sounds, the gifts of tongues. If you notice divers in the King James Version was italicized it means it was added when translating to make up for laguage barriers, so these gift of tongues manifests in one way, the person speaking does not have any idea what is been said.

Unless interpretation comes in.

You might speak in tongues and it would be the language of another person as inspired by the Spirit, the person would understand you.

Paul made an interesting disctinction on two kinds of tongues 1Corinthians 13:1 tongues of men and tongues of angels.

Tongues of men is simply speaking a known language that you didn’t learn but men know it while tongues of angels is speaking mysteries that no man knows. The knowledge is not fruitful without an interpretation.

Now interpretation of tongues is not one heavy duty too, Paul said you should pray to interpret too as much as you speak 1Cor 14:13. If you ask God, if you desire, if you are willing to give it expression, you would see them happen.

In prayers, it is best to speak with tongues because it would be praying from our spirit Romans 8:26

At times we have the urge or burden to pray and we don’t know why we are praying, who we are praying for or what to even pray for: at this point pray in other tongues and you would be praying God’s divine will you can never pray amiss when praying this way.

As you pray at times, you get to narrow down to a person or a place, in your spirit, or you might receive a word that directs you and then you would know exactly why you have prayed or you are praying, however if this doesn’t happen, pray and leave it alone. Just pray!!!

When this prayer is done in tongues it happens at times that you begin to know some words in your spirit that you would speak out, just speak them out. At times you would pray in tongues for a long time and have just two words to say in your understanding, at other times you have prayed for a little while and by inspiration you are speaking for minutes. There is no formula to this, just follow the Spirit,

He does the leading and you do the yielding.

Glory to God.
Any questions as regards this teaching or the former teachings is welcome, just drop it on the comment box and someone would get back to you, if you want to be reached via email or any other platform, we would work something out
Always remember

YOU ARE SAVED

YOUR SALVATION IS SURE

IT IS A REALITY

STAY IN GRACE.

Till next time, I love you.

Njoku Uchechi
Official Christapoet Team Poet