This topic has been constantly on my mind for the last few months. It has to do with the discernment of fruit. I have spent quite some time meditating on the words of Christ that are found in scripture and what that means to my own spiritual growth, and the Church as a whole. Just as a refresher, here are the words again from the Bible:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them – Matthew 7:15-20
There is much to be said about this passage. First off, there are only two types of fruit that Christ mentions: good and bad. There should not be anything but these two types. Anything else that is neither good or bad, and is some weird fusion of good and bad is a result of our own personal sin, or a deliberate result of the devil. We see this evident in the following passage:
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one – Matthew 5:47
All of this should be very simple. Good and evil, yes’ and no’s, yet we somehow spend most of our time in the grey area of confusion. Most of society rejects the idea of absolutes, and instead of striving to live in a world that is black and white, the world they wish to create is grey. A world that is sort of a muddled concoction of maybe’s, subjective truth, and just general wishful thinking. Let me state my point clearly here: Satan is the ruler of the grey, the maybe’s, the subjective truths based on emotions, and anything that is a hybrid of good and evil. I call this the culture of grey.
The above revelation was an absolute mind explosion for me. I had spent so much time caught in the weeds, always challenged to call something good or bad, and it was all because I was caught up in this culture of grey without even knowing it. A lot of the reason why we are, and have been, in the culture of grey stems from modern philosophies that were developed after the Protestant Revolution, and which have gone unabated to this day. The idea of relativistic truth is a creation of the devil. But why you may ask? Our Lord is very clear, anything that is not black and white is from the devil, and the reason the devil likes to keep us in this state of grey is because in that world we live existence outside of God. We are either with Christ, or against Christ. To stay on the fence is equivalent to us being against Christ. Scripture tells us that when we have two masters, we will despise the one and love the other, and unfortunately, we will always choose to love what is not Christ, and hate Christ. The devil has got us where he wants us.
“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon – Matthew 6:24
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters – Matthew 12:30
Let me give you a very common example that I see often. There is a program offered by a parish. Said program is 90% okay from a Catholic standpoint, but 10% is heretical. Now, if the program results in 5 people being drawn back into the Church, would you conclude that the fruit produce by the program is good? If you said yes, you are wrong. The fruit is bad. “But…but…someone is closer to Christ!” they will stammer. Sorry to hurt your feelings, but you are not looking at this correctly. What we have here is a product of the culture of grey, something seemingly good, intermixed with something seemingly evil. Anything that contains even a 1% of something evil is completely spoiled. Would anyone of you, by knowing that 1% of the water you are drinking contains a poison, proceed to drink the water? Of course not! You would pour that water out, probably throw away the cup too. Why would you do this? Because even if the percentage of poison is low, you would not risk losing your life. I ask you this then: why would you do any differently for your own soul? The bottom line is that if we had a clear sense of the poisons the enemy is trying to feed us daily, we would be horrified, but the vast majority simply do not care enough to break free from this lack of understanding. It is almost a willful ignorance.
How can an evil fruit produce a secondary good fruit? That’s easy, lets just go to scripture:
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
While we are very good at producing evil fruit with our cooperation with the devil, God is awesome in that He can take an evil fruit, and still produce a positive outcome, such as a conversion! So let us not get caught up as to how a conversion is not a good fruit of a ministry program. You would never call a murder a good fruit if it meant the conversion of the soul would you? Of course not! But even in the presence of this seemingly evil fruit, our Lord is able to make right all of our mistakes. He does this out of love for us.
Evaluate the fruit and the tree correctly! Do not just look at some arbitrary, positive fruit, and equate that to a reflection of the tree from which it came. Act with utmost prudence in your evaluation. If you are approaching this without any humility, be weary. Without humility, we will never see the truth for what it is; we will only reaffirm the truth that our pride wants us to see.
We need to make a firm commitment and resolve to get away from the culture of grey, and cleave to Christ alone. When we start doing this, we find the world becomes less grey, and becomes more black and white. Can we ever fully eliminate the grey in the Church? Yes, the Church is the Body of Christ, and with Christ as it’s head, who better to destroy the culture of grey? It is sad, however, that though the Church is able to do this, her leaders fail to execute this command. It could be said that many of the laity and clergy are part of the culture of grey, and do not see the damage right before their eyes. Some may be intentionally spreading the culture of grey for the devil. A culture in the Church that does not condemn sin, heresies, liturgical abuses, and the list goes on. Some may equate this to the need to be”nice” to the culture of grey, in order to draw them into the world of Christ, but I think this has to do more with cowardice, and a completely lack of understanding of the extent of damage caused by devilish philosophies developed over the past centuries. It was for this very reason why Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII had written extensively on the dangers of modernism, and liberal theologies that were making their way into the Church at the time. They were concerned about this culture of grey being led by Satan. Unfortunately, their warnings went unheeded, and this has lead us to our current situation in the Church.
Calling out good and evil clearly is not easy to do. I find that I still struggle with calling things as black and white constantly. There are so many cultural factors that we have to totally remove from our lives, and it’s very hard. The enemy has been at work since we enter in the world through TV, education, media, etc. To undo this damage will take time, and a lot of GRACE. We need to build up the courage, put on the armor of Christ, and begin to reclaim truth. No more watered-down stuff, no more wishful thinking, just pure and perfect truth. A pure and perfect understanding of the true Jesus Christ.
I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. – Revelation 3:15-16
Blessed Mother, pray that we may receive the grace from Jesus Christ to escape the culture of grey. The culture of Satan!