In Touch – April 12, 2013
Posted on April 12, 2013 by under Touché,

The Fruit of the Spirit

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.  (Galatians 5:22-26)

“If Christians cannot extend grace through faithful presence within the body of believers, they will not be able to extend grace to those outside.”  James Davison Hunter

The quotation by Hunter was included in some of the comments I have read by Christian bloggers who are appalled by the unchristian response by Christians to the sad news  that Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, committed suicide last week.  Warren writes: “Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest…”  From the comments that I have read he is not speaking simply about people outside of the church.

The series we began last Sunday,  The Fruit of the Spirit, is designed to address the question that has played out in Christian media this week.  Mark Driscoll, Frank Viola, Beth Moore and others have all had to call the Christian community on the carpet for the caustic and hurtful remarks directed at Rick and Kay Warren. I can say that in my years of ministry one of the most disappointing reflections is how so many who confess Christ as Lord seem to reflect more of what Paul talks about as the work of the flesh: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.

Galatians 5 gives us a picture of a transformed life lived in the Spirit and reflected in a way that is free from the demands of the law, but flows naturally through the grace of God.

It would be nice if the redeemed looked more redeemed, said Robert MacAfee Brown. It would be nice if those called by the Spirit would be guided by the Spirit and reflect the fruit in an unforced way.

This Sunday I will ask for reflections on lives of people you know who reflect the Fruit of the Spirit, especially joy.  Ushers will be standing in the aisles at the start of the message to challenge the bloggers who were so frustrated this week.  It may not make it on the websites of the world, but it will be featured on HRC’s website.  I hope that Mark Driscoll, Frank Viola, Beth Moore and other bloggers who posted about the sad comments might come back with some hopeful comments reflecting the Fruit of the Spirit in followers of Christ that you know.

In Joy,