Recognize Them By Their Fruit

There are three kinds of fruit: Good fruit, bad (or no) fruit, and genetically modified fruit.

Let’s have a look:

Based on Mt 7:15-23, “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of heaven; but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus was well aware of the false prophets of the Old Testament, those enemies of the truth who allured people and excited them with hope when there was no hope. Those who made people to believe all is well, when nothing good was in them. Jesus warned us that there will be falsehood in his community. He warned way ahead of time that false Christs will appear and perform in a way that even the elect, if they are not on guard, will fall prey to their deception. In today’s fast and high-tech, socially-networked world, where people compete to be on the cutting edge, to know the latest truth that trends in and changes every 15 minutes, it is hard to recognize and discern those who say ‘Kingdom, Kingdom’, yet violate the truth of the Kingdom. Outwardly, they may pass as fellow disciples of the King. At first glance, they say all the right things: ‘Lord, Lord, we prophecy, we drive out demons, we do miracles, we pray, we fast, we make disciples, we do good-will to the widows, the orphans, the poor and the needy…in your name.’

Yes, they use the name of Jesus to deceive, even the elect. From a certain distance they look like fig trees, but if you come closer, you will see their true thistly nature. From a certain distance you hear them shout “Kingdom, Kingdom”, but as you get closer you get to hear the muffled “my” before the word “Kingdom”. From a distance they deceive you to believe that they are grapes, but eventually the thorns will reveal themselves for what they truly are. Have you ever been fooled by such duplicates?

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I have been. Quite often in the Body of Christ. They are usually afraid of closer scrutiny, lest they are found out! They will not allow you to come close to them for fear of being betrayed by their own true nature. They like to rather talk about the speck of sawdust in your eyes and pay no attention to  the plank in their own eye.

So, how do we distinguish between the fig tree and the thistle; the grapes and the thorns? Jesus says, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” Not by their flowers, their leaves, their looks or even their fragrance. These outward things, these images and reports on social media can fool you. And, what is so special about the fruit? The fruit is where the seeds are protected. These seeds have the amazing ability to multiply into next generations. They contain the DNA that is needed to reproduce another tree that reproduces another tree and another. It is the continuity of life. Likewise, says Jesus, there are good trees and bad trees. Good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. You cannot expect a bad tree to produce good fruit or a good tree to produce bad fruit.

As I walked my dog one morning, I saw a farmer cut down cherry trees and pile the wood next to the tree stump. I asked him, “Why are you cutting them down, I enjoy its flowers during Spring season.” The farmer simply said, “Their fruit is not edible; they have worms. They are useless.” A good cherry tree cannot produce bad fruit, but it can produce fruit with worms in it. Sin can wiggle inside a good fruit bearing tree and corrupt it with worms. These trees then become useless to the Lord of the harvest. They are no more good trees for him, therefore, he will cut them down like a good farmer does and throw those into the fire.

Genetically Modified Fruit: Then there are trees that do produce fruit, but their seeds are genetically modified by human hands. Their DNA is changed using genetic engineering techniques to increase sales profit. Just like genetically modified vegetables, they are more colorful, bigger in size, and produce bigger quantity. More and more of Christianity is using genetic engineering techniques to sell itself better. Some capture a moment with their cameras and then market their experience on social media to get attention. But if you look at their DNA, the creational order of the Creator is absent in them. Their seeds look like seeds, but they can’t multiply. Their fruit smell like fruit, but do not taste like fruit. The multiplicative fruit is modified to please the eyes of the public. It attracts attention, it is colorful, exciting, different, smart, high tech, and high yield – but it is man-made. Its fruit does not reflect the image of God, nor his Kingdom standards.

There will be a moment of truth. In the presence of Christ, some, with fervency will cry out ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we, in your name, prophecy, drive out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, disciple others, do good deeds to the poor, pray, fast, preach…? Such cries will be insufficient in that moment of truth. Jesus answers: I don’t recognize you. You don’t reflect me. Your fruits are of no use to me. They are infested with worms. “Away from me, you evil doers.”

That is a strong statement from Jesus mouth, and I hope none of us ever will have to hear it. So let us make sure that we are good trees, yielding good fruit.

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