Thursday, May 26, 2011

A brutally honest answer to a brutally honest question

The Bible is filled with many commands about how we are to conduct ourselves, how we are to act, and what we should do as Christians. There are many such passages, but arguably the most famous one is the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians chapter 5:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

And since we want to be good Bible-believing and obeying Christians, we strive to carry out the instructions that God has left us in His word. We try really really hard to love others after they just threw us under the bus to save their own skin. We try really really hard to be patient and self controled when the repo man comes and takes away our possessions. We try really really hard to have peace and joy when we just found out that our family was killed in a car accident, or that the company is letting us go and we have no way to make it to the end of the week. 

Fruit of the Spirit? How in the world could I possibly have peace and joy in the midst of circumstances like that? Sure, I might be able to "will" myself to think that way, but it would only be a matter of time for what I was truly thinking to come out. If those things had happened to me, my first response wouldn't be to bless those that curse you or to be self-controlled. I'd rather like to take that fruit and smash it in the  face of whoever just turned my world upside down. 


Now that we have been brutally honest about life and about our struggle to follow God, let's take a step back and ask a basic question: Why? Why would love be a fruit of the Spirit? Why would joy, and peace, and the rest of the list be named among the things that are characteristic of a follower of Christ? Admittedly, these are very difficult questions to answer. But I have found that if you take time to consider these things, to consider why a Christian would have joy and peace and faithfulness, and all the others, If you take time to reflect on who God is and what He has done for us and is doing in us, I am convinced that you will find not just reasons for Christians to be this way, but solid ground for YOU to stand on and BE the kind of fully devoted follower of Christ that is described in this passage.

It's all about perspective, and we have to have an accurate view of reality, one that extends beyond the limits of our world as we know it. If we only focus on our own perspective, then we will only ever see the trees. But if we learn to see things from God's perspective, and to have an eternal perspective, we will then begin to see the forest for all its grander, all it's beauty, and discover how richly blessed we are to know the Lord, who is forever on His throne, working through all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, who loves us beyond imagination and who is forever good and holy, holy, holy.  

It is at this point that we stop trying to create fruit in our life apart from the Vine, and start pursuing the Vine and abiding in Him- Fruit is not the point; the Vine, Jesus Christ, is. When we abide in Him, all these things will become evident in our lives, because the fruit of the Spirit is no longer our goal. Jesus is. We won't have to "try" to be kind and patient and love others and have joy-- it will simply happen when we live surrendered to Him and continually remember who God is and what He has done. The waves will crash, and tragedy will come. But the follower of Christ, who has been made new by Him, will have a hope secure, a solid Rock to stand firm upon, that will enable him or her to endure the struggles and pain of this world and hear our blessed Lord say at the end of our life, "well done, my good and faithful servant."

No comments: