I’m reading a lot lately about fruit… good fruit vs. bad fruit and how to discern the difference. It’s rather straightforward in our Bibles, or at least I thought it was. The book of Luke tells us that good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit (6:43).
So how in the world can we arrive at such different conclusions as to what constitutes good or bad fruit? There’s an argument being floated around by some popular teachers (I’ll just stop there) that fruit can only be deemed “good” if everyone on the receiving end of a particular topic feels welcomed and validated. Folks feel challenged or bad at a certain Biblical teaching? Must be bad fruit. Do people feel good hearing what I have to say? Good fruit!
Here is where we are plunged into divisions on race, gender and everything else imaginable. When one group is told they are too privileged to be discerning, and another group is told they hold all the cards. No, this is not what Jesus taught. This is man-centered theology that is leading us far away from the freedom that Christ died for.
As Christians, we stand under the same banner, the same flag, the same God. We aren’t oblivious to suffering or injustice, far from it. However, the buzzwords privileged and marginalized lose their power over me at the foot of the cross. We believers have great privileges in this life and we can also be completely marginalized by the rest of the world. See? It works both ways for everyone. It doesn’t mean we are victims in a cosmic comparison game, we are all children of God.
When we say we want Christians who are honored, valued and flourishing, do we mean at any and all costs? Everyone has to feel great, at all times, about all decisions, in all ways. Do not speak of Biblical mandates that call me to set down my little idols. Do not tell me about my indwelling sin.
The kind of fruit Jesus was talking about isn’t determined by our assessment of it’s effects. For example, in Sunday school as a kid, we were taught a lesson on not gossiping. God’s Word tells us not to do that. I felt annoyed at the lesson, mostly because I was a middle school girl who gossiped too much. It convicted me, as it should have. Our teacher was teaching the truth, good fruit. The same goes for every area of sin in our lives, big ones and little ones. It’s not about being marginalized, it’s about our inborn sin and need to be rescued out of it.
So the argument that “if teaching doesn’t lead to immediate flourishing for the sinner, it’s bad fruit”, is a bad argument. We are ALL sinners. Never did Jesus ignore the poor, the sick or the outcast. He also didn’t put anyone in their own protected class immune from repentance.
Those verses in Luke continue with something that many may find a bit uncomfortable:
But why do you call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built his house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat and immediately and it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”Luke 6:46-49
So then according to Jesus, hearing and not doing what He says is bad fruit. He doesn’t tell us to hear and then decide on our comfort level what we will accept.
Friends, we should be grateful that Christ Himself makes it so clear. And don’t think that He doesn’t understand our humanity here… we struggle. Sin takes hostages. Sin has awful consequences. We as a church need to understand that while remaining true to leading folks on the narrow path that leads to freedom.
Don’t let the ‘woke’ crowd tell you that it’s the truth that hurts people. Jesus was living proof of just the opposite, the truth sets us free. It may hurt, it will certainly convict, but it leads to good fruit.
Bad theology has really taken hold in Christianity and it’s not a fluke or mistake. The truth matters. It matters so much. Go to the Word and see for yourself. The more time we spend there, the less appealing these twisted new ideas will be to us.
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit… if you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.John 15:8-10