As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the ekklesia flows out of the inward parts of God. It is a divine organism. It’s not a tradition or a custom. She (and the New Testament describers her as a “she”) is a civilization born out of the unction of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, her members are human and fallen, but she’s divine as well.
This brings us to the subject of fruit. Primarily, “the fruit of the Spirit” as mentioned in Galatians 5.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
For decades, preachers have been trying to persuade you and me to bear this kind of fruit. But the presupposition behind that persuasion is that we bear the fruit of the Spirit by effort. If you aren’t being patient, kind, gentle, self controlled, etc. you’re just not trying hard enough (so the thinking goes).
But this isn’t the way that a tree bears fruit. Every tree on the planet is a study in survival. A tree bears fruit out of the over abundance of life. Every cell and fiber is saturated with life, and it must find a way get rid of it or else it will drown in its own life. Thus it produces pods on its tips and on the ends of its branches. Fruit is dropped to the earth due to the excess of life that’s contained in the tree.
The fruit of the Spirit, then, is the result and the expression of divine life. I’ve never seen a tree bear fruit by grunting, straining, or striving. The fruit emerges naturally out of life.
In the same way, when you learn how to touch, encounter, and draw on the life of Christ – which indwells every genuine believer – on a regular basis, the natural result is fruit.
And if you have the privilege of gathering with other believers who are learning to draw from that same life, the excess is the fruit of God’s nature. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is just another way of saying the nature of divine life – which is what the New Testament calls “love.”
Compare 1 Corinthians 13 with the description of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and you’ll see the striking parallels. Notice also that it’s the fruit (singular) of the Spirit, not fruits (plural).
The fruit is love, which is the nature of divine life. And when you are walking in love, you are gentle, you are kind, you have self-control, you are patient, etc. These attributes are all manifestations of love – i.e., the nature of God’s life.
This is why learning to live by the Lord’s indwelling life is the central thing you and I should be focused on in this life. And whenever a body of believers is touching that life together, the results are incredible. Christ is seen and experienced through His body.
At the same time, if that same body of believers stops having fellowship with that life, then it will begin to chase other things (even good and spiritual things), but things others than Christ Himself. And it will fall apart.
The key is to stay focused on the life, which produces the fruit.