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

Redemption Memo

It began like this…

Clad in purple and linen, cat-walking with stiletto strapped feet,
I miss my steps

Fall into a gully of mud
Stumble into the midst of men mouthing profanity

Stench ooze from me like box of putrid egg

I become crafter of maleficence, of deeds done in darkness

Yet, I am of tender days than to perpetuate impurity
You, of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.

Lord, seems mother said you do not appose your eyelids like the sons of men?

But why are these befalling me
Or why should I be falling?

Like Martha, this is how I feel:
Lord if you had been here, my soul would not have been ensnared in the tempter’s trap

Now I come with a bunch of sins, my back bent into a hunch

Have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy and vanquish this vile!
Let these things cease, like when you stilled the storm

Will you discard the memento of your purchase?
The one you stamped by your blood on the tree, like Rahab’s scarlet cord hung over the window in Canaan?

Up till now, the spies are over the gate of my soul, watching, waiting to devour & divide me as a spoil—this moribund mortal

But the redemption of my soul is costly,
And in it, you promised sin shall not have dominion over me

This is why tonight, I recite to you the memorandum of my redemption
I hope you heed my cry and help me.

Ayooluwa Olasupo Ìmísí
©2021

Holy Gist

Yesterday was quite cloudy
It felt like the travelling rain
Decided to stop at my terrain to greet
But it didn’t
Flashes of lightning like swords fight pushed through the thick black clouds
It was an intentional scare I thought
And my thoughts slept with me

Now I’m thinking about it
How is a God whose voice is louder than the thunder speak so softly
That you could hear distinctly in stillness?
I remembered a time
I also wondered what lights really is
You know
Stepping into that flash of light as in the lightning
Light in light?
No shadow of turning?
How is that even possible?
How will light so fill a place
That it will cast no shadow

Hold it! what could Holy mean?
All white, flurry, smells like sweets?
Holy!
Set apart!
Yes, I later learnt what it meant
Separated for the divine
Who is actually The Vine
The one from whom we got our alias – the Branches

I was told that the Vine isn’t just a fruit tree
That it’s a tree that creeps
Better put infiltrate
It takes over
Just give it time
It’s so beautiful that after it’s done with the host
All you can see is vine
Branches faithful to the course
Actually bring forth the fruits
Occupy till I come
For you are a chosen generation
A holy priesthood
They are the ones
That become the Light in the light
The ones that there is also found no shadow of turning
God is light, in Him there’s no darkness
You are of God Little Children
The glory of the vine had made us one
As they are one
Abiding in Him as He is in the Father

How did I start this gist?
I hope it still rains today
Who knows it could make me think of another gist tomorrow.

Pearly Thoughts
(C) 2021

A chip of ice- for mum

Your teardrops would battle fiercely
From the corners of your eyes
They would force their way through
The rigid, unyielding valley of your eyelids
And when they fell
They would stab your cheeks, twist your nose
And sting the recesses of your jaw

Yet when they fell,
They were like the sudden rain that mocked the Sahara
Like the mango tree growing in the Arctic
They were a wonder, and so were you.
For you loved me
Like icy cold, angry waters hammering on rocks
Falling

From unbelievable heights, through the distance between us
Screaming, raging and filled with the frustration
That your decades had fed you
As you crisscrossed naked open seas, flogged by the sun
And through lush green forests
With dwindling mud tracks and filthy streams
Falling

Defying boulders and meanders that had beaten you into thin ice
And kept you on your tiptoes with your back bent
Trying to meet my needs
Through cold, dark nights when you slept
With the biting in your belly
With the uncertainty of worry
Yet you flowed, silent and rapid
Falling,

Through the secrets you swallowed as you went by
And the hurts which never made you cry
And the sorrows you fought to bring forth life
With a charming smile on your face.
You shamed the hardness
That shaped your life
And you crashed against my rocky heart
With the weight of ages of ice
You flogged me, you tore me, you tested me
In my blindness, you were my foe
But I have received the warmth sparked
By the slap of your coldness
And I have melted in love
Your love is hidden in my heart of ice

Ndubuisi Chioma J
© 2019

Let these lines stand proof i said it: the reply

On this day I found my thirst
I am life for no love I thirst
Am disgraced by just this grace
Let these lines stand as proof… I said it

Thirst or not, write or wrung
Life and love, none or more
Grace or Craze, choose a race
Let these lines stand proof I said it…in your face!

Davnique like Blyton, having a need
To be a little spectacular, not today indeed
Blowing my mind like a volcano freed
Let these lines stand proof I said it

Oh, una sun start
They say is four lines me I need like eight stat!
But you should landscape your screen before you count it
Let these lines stand proof that I said it

Script beauty let my Baby act it
Forge next year let me yesterday it
And I began already when I thought about it
Let these lines stand proof I said it

Stand proof I said it
Arm me with the truth Bros
So I can Arya Stark deathly hallows
Many seek hilled woods till my pens speak
Let these lines stand proof… I said it!

His tree will be mighty
If to my Yahweh him go bend knee
For to live is Christ and Paul thought this
“Let these lines stand proof I said it.”

Nonso-sama
Kinda who I’d rather read than give answer
But lemme say I miss you Big Papa
Let these lines stand proof, I said it; instanta

The Niel
Felzpoecy
© 2019

Freedom

I want to be free to live,
A life free from difficulty,
A life with no tragedy

I want to be free to walk,
walk and never be stopped
Free to walk away from that sin that enslaved me,
Free to confront the devil that estranged me

I want to be free to speak,
Oh let my tongue leak, the truth.
I want to be free to spill out words that heal,
Words that plant and uproot futile roots

I want to be free to see,
See beyond diverse challenges,
See an adventure in the midst of peril

I want to be free to smile,
A smile that brightens and brings joy to a troubled mind and uplifts the weary heart

I want to be free to dream,
Dreams that are not assaulted by ferocious nightmares,
Dreams that give the assurance of a bright future

I want to be free to give,
Give without demanding to receive
Free to give myself up, just as Christ did for us

I want to be free to worship,
Acknowledging him who has dominion and lordship

I want to be free to love,
Unconditionally, exclusively and indefinitely

I want to be free to be the creators poet,
Free to get my papers wet,
With blue blood as they surge freely through my pen

I want to be free to write my piece,
Without chaos afflicting my peace

I want to be free to be the “me” that I’m supposed to be,
Not regarding people’s thoughts and opinions of me

I want to be free from pressures,
Free from peer pressures that accelerates my blood pressure
Free from living to measure up and forgetting his “treasure up”

I want to be free from the shadows of my past,
Free to take off this obfuscating mask
I know I committed crimes and crossed lines but I want to be free to bask in his ever redeeming light,
Free to actualize that in Christ, I am worth a Jew’s eye

I want to be free
According to God’s will
Flourishing like the flowers
Gushing with full strength like the waters
And as a tree planted near the rivers whose root spreads across like the garment of a diva

I want to be free expanding in knowledge
thrilling in the realm of possibilities
healing the broken souls with those words gifted from above

So, I desire to be free
Free from the seal of fear and jest
Free from imperfections and wrong decisions
Free the rain of confusion that overwhelms the kingdom on the inside,
Free from the floods of lust that empties grace
And takes away God’s face
I need to be free!
clothed with righteousness on the race
Nurtured on the way
Living to become my very best

Princess
The Alchemist
© 2019.

Barren Mother

I have an empty well of a belly.
My womb has known nothing but dying blood all my living years.
I have thought of no one but myself,
Fed no one but myself,
Placed no one before myself,
How do I have a womb except it was made to bear another, and yet
I have no idea what it means to pour a part of myself into another.
“A breast feeding mother?”
That’s a foreign name to me.
“A bread winning father?”
Who dares call me?
I am my own hero,
My own salt,
My own light in a shady place,
Come with me and I’ll lead you into the darkness.
I’d snuff the life out of my light because I do not want to share it.
I’m an evil already happening,
A menace waiting to be uncovered.
My tactics are new everyday
Yet my mind is old.
I am a dirty, dirty soul with a clogged up heart and a rigid body.

This is why I have come before the Rock of Ages,
Before The fire that purifies without consuming to ashes.
My tears produce more salt now than I have ever thought to produce.
I do not know when I ever took lessons from the ocean
But my ill will like waves come crushing over me.
I am caught up in my own dirt web,
Spun in my own fear.
I have come to you as a barren womb in need for a child.
I was born to be mother, now may I know a child?
I have come as a fruitless tree in its season.
As hungry fire,
I’m desperate.
As a docile branch,
I submit.
I accept defeat.
Let your rains fall on this arid land again, Lord.
I admit nothing was ever my own;
As I am left with nothing now I am reminded where I come from.
Give me one child, Yahweh ‘tis All I ask.
Surprise the quick-to-conclude with Your quick-to-deliver.
Let them know when their calling-me-barren tongues call me mother,
Let them know from every side of the flipping coin earth,
That You make the Barren Mother.

Adaobi Chiemelu
(c) 2018

False-Truth

I’m not good enough,
Daddy is taking Ada out for the third time because she aced her exams and I did not,
It’s the 4th time I’m being dumped for the better one who happens to bear my second name,
Yes! I took the pain to please my team and they chose David instead to take the lead,
Right now, I can’t look my wife in the face because I was not strong enough to rescue our only son before the car exploded in my face,
It’s 5 of 5 times I gave my opinion only to be overlooked by Tunde my coworker,
Who later brushed it up at the board meeting and was given a cool offer,
I even bet my life savings on the victory of my soccer club and the other club won,
And now I remember that it was momma who never believed a word a say because of the lie I told when I was two,

So, before I take my baby steps to death,
let me tell you that life has left me bullied by these thoughts and actions and betrayals and my pride with many rejections,
I even resulted to alcoholism but.. wait,
My religion abhors it so I’m formerly depressed,
These are the few I can tell,
I don’t want to tingle your ears,
And so far, all gesture given to me have been a clue for my escape away from this wicked world,

This was my life until I met one who told me I was made for so much more,
“Though the world’s pressure be heavy on me?”
But one sure word,
“Though I have been tagged as a sore looser and my dreams are dying”
But one true word,
“Though the stem of a tree be cut off and it’s roots wither but with the scent of water…
..That tree will grow again”

So before you pull the trigger to your brain,
Or drink that mixture,
Or have a last look at the beautiful skies as you sink in to the deep,
Or tie that rope to your neck,
Or write your last letter,
Give me the chance to rescue the hero in you,
Let me a minute to whisper to you that you are the one the skies have been waiting for,
Allow me to give you this scent of hope that there’s one who believes in your breath,
Your scent, your accent, your color, your posture, your smiles,

I mean your tears a so treasured so much that every drop sends a signal to the one who created you,
Truly you’re the apple of his eyes,
And these misdeeds are remodeling you into a masterpiece,
Your past do not define your future,
You are equal and more to that problem you’re facing,
You’re the champion waiting to happen,
So don’t give up, hang in there!
And just before another ‘false truth’ comes knocking at your mind’s door,
Accommodate this one truth,
“You are good enough!”

Azubuike Hannah
© 2018