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

Nostalgia

She said I write but it is not poetic
I guess I just recognize a selling point
Point me to the past I’ll be back at it
That first day I saw Godswill

Mmm


I’m emotional I beg your pardon
The things that connect when you meet a God person
I can at least afford to pay attention

All of that bed dressing
But I am not done with the lesson
Cedars got on stage like “We are the best thing”
Masks on my wall, I forgot to call Kizi

We grew from one location
To going on tour and we’re just beginning
They tell me “Bro, one day you go blow”
I smile and bow a seed will die to grow

I could make an anthem for the kain ship
You guys make me feel so fancy
There are stories that I daren’t tell
Movies make my head swell
Eating cabbage like it’s fresh bread
Being Nigerian is a king thing
I just kill all the dread
Luck or is it grace that I’m mehd
if you don’t walk on water
You’ll be doing so soon
What you are is enough
When it’s time don’t you bloom?

Don’t you bloom?

The Nielquchi
© 2020

Things Unseen!

I don’t know much about faith,
But if mine could be measured,
I am sure a mustard seed would feel bigger,
And a feather would hold more weight,
And tip the scale more than my faith,
On any given SI Unit

I don’t know much about Agric science;
How one plants a seed in an unknown soil,
In the night, full of uncertainties,
Hoping it germinates into a plant,
Bearing fruits of things one wished for,

I don’t know much about moving Mountains,
But I know of the Faith,
That made a woman wrestle her way through a crowd,
So that her rain forest of blood could be a desert,
That multiplied five loaves and two fishes into thousands and five baskets,
That defied the law of physics,
So, Peter could walk on water,

I don’t know much about Miracles,
But I know the One,
That turned water to wine,
That called the dead out of his tomb,
And called the bluff of a storm,
He is the one I present this little seed to,
Hoping that the things unseen in my life,
Manifests into sights best known to man.

Olaoye Adeleye
(C) 2019

Story of My Life

What is life without death?
What is a seed if it yields no crop?
Life is fleeting, blood is red
Blood is hot, and so is love

The heart beats, it is also red
Adrenaline, the same is hot
My appetite, red sizzling stew
Sex, with a hot red blood

What is life without death?
My wills and desires, an offering of love
For my gifting and dreaming; his gifts to me
And when I say, “You first; You alone”
What He hears: “I love You, my LORD”

Favour Omeje
© 2020

For love only

I thought I knew strength, what I thought
I felt I needn’t do what I ought
I was wrong, so I blamed my strife
Follow me and you’ll have eternal life
These words I didn’t heed
I was that rebellious seed
Though aware of this grace, I was no bolt in this race
Adam where art thou? I hid my face
I had gone against truth, tasted the forbidden fruit

Surely I still had time, I said
But any hope in this very lie was dead
“The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief…
But I kept sinning, ignoring my belief
“The wages of sin is death…
Mine drew closer with every breath

This cliché have I heard, the thousandth time
Repent or eternal death; the clergy rhyme
So at times I wondered, beyond and under
Is Hell a yonder? Or should I even bother?
If this suffering, they speak is somewhat real
maybe the safe side is where I’d rather be
So yes, I did consider

What if I got saved, or take a break from life o’er there
I would still be lost, neither here nor there
“Thou shall love the Lord your God…
I knew mine wasn’t love; Just the fear of hell
Maybe it was the same if no one could tell
So I walked in hands open, heart closed.

“By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved..
I walked in and didn’t come out the same
I didn’t come out at all.
I thought he was blinded by his love
But it made him see what even I couldn’t
Coz even when I despised him, he loved me
He still does, and always will.
Oh! and this time I love him too

Erudite
© 2019

Slavery

I spoke to Runs girl once,
She said her anger is her source
As she was forced to this life
By her Uncle who came like a thief in the Night and her virginity was the casualty
So the penalty is death for all those who now commit the crime of sleeping with her
She blames they, them
For the mayhem she cause their Marriages
‘I wouldn’t pay for damages when my case has been adjourn’
Everyone I told turn a blind eye to my hurt
Now my heart burns with hate
If you stare at me, your fate might be a night to that hell I have been put through
I and my crew will screw all of you till you forget your wives and call us Boo
She like many others are Nigerian avengers
Fighting the ghost of their abusers
And I too felt her pain
A slave to a past that had been stained,
But can be snow if she chooses to let his light glow
Even if life has given her a low blow as she wrestles with her past demons
She can tag him in
He will guarantee her the win
Then the will to talk of his saving grace with pride
Everywhere she goes, she sows seed of hope to girls like her who are still slaves to rippers of souls
Tell them the past matters but the future is what they want to see and behold

Victor Isoje
(c) 2018

Glimpse Of Glory: The Forever

As I sank deeper and deeper into sleep, awakening was a bright vortex beyond my reach. I screamed as I fell but my voice wouldn’t come out. I looked down and I saw their eyes huge and sinister now,  a million and one hands stretched out to grab me “No please let me go”, all I heard was laughter, screeching loud laughter, then voices, they wouldn’t stop speaking.

I could hear them all at once

you are of the grave, of this grave you are!”,

“who are you?”, I tried to make out the words but nothing.  I was limp, a ball of lead , noodles for limbs, I could sense my heart beat weaken, it switched from a steady thump thump to a silent thud and then a restless ease.  In that moment I stopped breathing.

Have you ever been in that place where your dreams are more desirable than the nightmare you’re  living? Well I was there, its called Death.

     I sank into oblivion, I know this because the voices, they grew distant as I got sucked into a whirlpool of memories.  Floating through the uneasy swirl I saw my mother. Her beautiful skin soft and sweet against the golden rays of sun.

I stretched my mutilated limbs to touch her but my limbs passed through the mist of floating swirls, a teardrop left my eye and floated towards another memory of her, the dull calm sunk me deeper into folds of empty unknown, until slowly, steadily, I let go.

***

“….and oh the joy that floods my soul, something happened, now I know He touched me and made me whole…”

It was the chirping of a blue robin perched on a stalk that woke me up, my crusty eyes struggling to adjust to the light that pierced into my cold flesh warming me sweetly… the sun!
I smiled as I rubbed a moist palm over my face, I burst out laughing! hands! I had hands! my joy could not be spoken in words.
I wriggled my toes as I stretched myself towards the sky to take in the full beauty of the morning,
Satisfied with the feel of the soil, dug deep between my toes.

Such bliss, such glory.

————————————-

~Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it is alone.~

To Be Passed On.

Msray
© 2018