No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” Luke 6:43-44 NIV
Nigerian playwright and activist Wole Soyinka, 1986 Nobel laureate in literature and the first African to be honored in that category, made a huge impact on me when I learned some of his most powerful sayings. My favorite is that “A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces.” Its French version nuances it a little more. “Un tigre ne proclame pas sa tigritude, il bondit sur sa proie et la devore”. It states that, a tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, it pounces on its prey and devours it. In other words, a tiger does not stand in the forest and say “I am a tiger”. The color of its skin is not used to identify it, but rather its manner of striking its prey is.
Can a similar identifier be used in a community of believers? I believe so. Jesus commanded us to go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things He has commanded us. And He promised to be with us to the end of the world (Mat. 28:19-20). I see this as our “tigritude”.
Jesus delineates our tigritude by stating, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Mat 25:35-36 NIV). These are the behaviors of genuine believers. As Christian, we have a role to play in the welfare of our communities. Although we may not always hit our mark, we will continue to do our best.
Having our names in a church directory does not make us active Christians. Are we like a tree bearing good fruit or the one bearing bad fruit? Are we involved in community service? Can family ministries, youth ministries, Sabbath School or refugee ministries count on us? What is our status right now? Is Covid-19 responsible of our inactivity in our communities? Are we part of a life group? Are we opening doors so that others may be acknowledged, accepted, understood, and supported?
Standing idly in church and calling ourselves active is fraudulent. Jesus told inactive followers that whatever they did not do for one of the least of these in need, they did not do for Him (Mat. 25:45-46). We are invited to be dynamic in God’s kingdom. A dynamic Christian teaches and disciples the nations in the name of the Trinity by demonstrating love towards those in need.
The color of our skin should not be our identifier, but rather real actions in the lives of those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, clothe-less, sick, prisoners, lonely, and ungodly. Jesus calls us to “go and work in my vineyard” (Mat. 20:7b). Let’s be diligent in serving others.