Christianity without “the fruit of the Spirit” is harsh, bland, and unappetizing

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe… – Ephesians 1:17-19

img_1216Sometimes, especially when I get really excited about an idea, I can be guilty of overplaying it. What I mean is that, in presenting the concept, talking about it, or writing about it, I can sound as if it’s pretty much the ONLY thing.

That’s why I appreciate the spiritual workshop atmosphere that good small groups turn into when we’re honest with one another, and when we listen.

Saturday morning, for example, I was going on and on about how critically important it is to be intentional when it comes to following Jesus. We practice discipleship; we set aside time for prayer; we deliberately turn away from the negative and turn our eyes on Jesus; we walk consciously in The Way.

Then Dan reminded us that we don’t want to be stilted, mechanical, legalistic, or unnatural in our practice of this walk with God. We live out of an orientation toward Christ, yes, but we don’t read from a script. Then he reminded us of one of my own illustrations: If I want to play blues on my guitar, first I have to learn the scales and do the exercises… but then I have to let go of the mechanical response and let the music flow out of me.

“The herbs of the Spirit are sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary…”

IMG_1222And I thought about that conversation some more, Saturday evening while I was preparing dinner. I had some nice salmon fillets I planned to cook. I’ve referenced a lot of recipes over the past few years, but this time I let all that knowledge and practice flow through me and out from me, and I improvised a really amazing meal

Interestingly, it wasn’t until I got out into the garden and harvested some of my favorite herbs that it all came together. Purple sage, lemon thyme, parsley, rosemary.

Right away I was reminded how certain qualities of spirituality serve to enhance, and to complete, my witness as a follower of Jesus. “The fruit of the Spirit is (the herbs of the Spirit are) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Like herbs and spices, this is the flavor, the richness, the craft, the life of our witness to the good news. We can push the religion side of things hard, but unless we are really living for Jesus, filled with the Spirit, trusting in God, we present something that is harsh, bland, and unappetizing.

Is your faith bland and unappetizing? Or is it rich with the nuanced flavors of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and more…?

Take some time today to show up at church and worship God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Think about it, learn it, repeat it, practice it – and then go out from the blessed community, and let God’s Spirit live through you.

Peace, and more peace – DEREK

 

 

 

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