Lately, I've been accused of not being a real Christian or a believer due to some of my views. In fact, this accusation has been thrown around pretty loosely and liberally by many, to many.
What does a Christian look like? Or maybe a better question: What does it mean to look like Jesus?
Besides simple belief in the person and work of Jesus Christ, Paul provides a list of attributes to describe “the Christian.”
When a crowd of people asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus’s beautiful and simple answer was, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” Jesus tells them to believe in Him. That’s what a Christian is, pure and simple.
But how do we know we’re letting God have our life - that we’re living the life of a believer?
Surprising to many, it’s not our affiliation with a church, our reading of the Bible, or our “right theology'' that reflects our relationship with God.
Writing to the Galatians, Paul lists fruit of the Spirit. He did this to push back against Christians that believed their faith is simply a cognitive assent.
The list is how one measures living out the Christian life as they “keep in step with the Spirit” of God. It’s an ideal, which can be a cruel shame-maker without the love, grace, and help of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s point was that it’s easy to say we believe in Jesus, but the passage is teaching how to MEASURE that belief.
It’s also a checklist for us to personally reflect if our thoughts, words, or actions are from God.
Please consider the following statements:
To understand if my thought, word, or action is from God…
Love: Does it unselfishly and even sacrificially work toward the best for others?
Joy: Does it foster well-being, delight, and rest in God?
Peace: Does it create peace among myself and others, or does it create separation?
Patience: If possible, does it come from a place of waiting and careful consideration, or is this impulsive?
Kindness: Is it thoughtful of others’ needs, building them up vs. tearing them down?
Goodness: Is it for everyone’s ultimate good and benefit, or does it simply satisfy my own appetites and desires?
Faithfulness: Is it said or done from a place of trusting in God, or done in fear?
Gentleness: Is my manner tender — without sarcasm or anger. Will it be received well?
Self-control: Does it have to be said or done now? What if I don’t say or do it?
So, that's a lot of pressure. If we measure ourselves against these fruits on any given day, we will fail miserably - thanks be to God’s forgiveness and saving us from ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we can’t grow and make movement when we ask God to enter our lives and help us.
When we ask God everyday to take control of our life, we will see the fruit of the Spirit in it. It will be messy. We will fail. But as we walk in step with the Spirit, there will be the presence of Jesus, fruit in our life.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
~ Galatians 5:22-23