Has your bible ever fallen open to just the right words speaking just the right truth… at just the right moment? Thank you, Spirit. Thank you for your comfort and guidance.
When I started meditating on the Fruit of the Spirit a few weeks ago, I never realized the places it would take me. I confess, my earliest thoughts on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 was that of spiritual warm fuzzies. However, when you take a look at the context of the verse and where it lies in Paul’s letter, you find that the Fruit of the Spirit are the other option in life. Spiritual Fruits are produced only when you nail the desires of your sinful nature to the cross, when you actively choose to walk away from your natural inclinations to sin. Paul paints the picture that one can indeed nail that old life of sin to the cross. We can choose to walk away and start producing something beautiful with our lives (See Gal. 5: 16-25).
But those fruits don’t always grow easily. It takes work and effort to maintain them. They are very action oriented, not passive. You can’t buy these fruits in the grocery store, you must till the soil and grow them yourself. Unlike the sinful desires, there is no law against working toward the love of others, joyfully facing the pain of life, fighting for peace in the middle of a storm, being patient while screaming inside, showing kindness when you don’t really want to, saying no and being good, remaining faithful, being the only gentle soul in the room, and exhibiting self control when you really want to punch someone in the jaw when they clearly deserve it. Don’t ever believe for one second that Christianity is the easy road. Sometimes people deserve a swift kick in the pants, and the advice from our Savior is to turn and walk. I am glad though, because most of the time it’s me who deserves the kick.
I realize it is not a popular teaching today to expect change out of people. We seem to be very uncomfortable requiring anything of ourselves and others. We are so grateful for grace, that we revel in it neglecting to mention our response to that grace. Grace is the gift. Obedience is the thank you.
I’m mourning the loss of transformation in our lives. I’m mourning that loss in our communities, our churches, our countries. We’ve made an idol out of keeping peace, avoiding hurt feelings, and never offending. We’ve made an idol out of our comforts. We’ve made an idol of the easy road. Well, friends, if you don’t want to be offended, I recommend never picking up a bible again. Because it is all there…our sin, our yuck, laid bare for all to see are our wrongs. And yet, He came. The most offensive part of all, you see, is that HE, the perfect, came and was stripped bare for our mess, our continuing mess. And lately I fear, our response to that sacrifice is to play in the manure and celebrate grace rather than to pick up, wash up, and change for Christ’s sake because of grace.
Tonight I opened my bible and Lamentations caught my eye. “Rise during the night and cry out. Pour our your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children for in every street they are faint with hunger.” Lamentations 2:19
I plead for our children. For they need to see our goodness. They need to see our kindness. They need to witness our transformation. They need to see that we, the church, are more than simply gay hating, missionary skimping, political ranting, in-fighting, crazies. They must see our fruits in order to see Jesus. God help us. Christ left us here to spread the gospel. What message is our life spreading? What message is my life spreading? Is it one of joy, peace, self-control?
Tomorrow, I’ll attempt to write on faithfulness. Though tonight I’m cynical and sad, and I wonder who I am faithful to, and if I’m faithful at all. I love you, God. Being Faithful to my loving Father is not difficult. I love you, my Savior. Being faithful to you is humbling. Your bride, though, Lord. She disappoints. Your bride is often lacking, and I’m part of the problem.