About a year and a half ago I began to think about how following Jesus is more than just reading about him, trying to be nice and believe all the right things, but that a big part of following Jesus is allowing the Holy Spirit to change us. I decided to use a passage in a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in an area called Galatia as a guide to think about what it looks like to be changed by the Holy Spirit. The passage goes like this, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." At that time I wrote about a number of these, but then I accepted a call to another church and this blog was kind of put to the side while my family and I moved and adjusted to a new church and community.
It was brought to my attention that I had this blog and I was encouraged by a number of people to pick this up again, so I have decided to once again try my hand at blogging. But there is another reason I've decided to begin again, and that is because as a church we have decided to start on a journey of church renewal, using a process and structure developed by the seminary of our church. As we've entered this journey, the thing that has struck me the most about church renewal is that it is about getting back to the basics: gospel telling and discipleship. The goal of gospel telling and discipleship is to make the Bible and our relationship with Jesus the center of everything we do as individuals and as a church, and to have a focused path of helping those in our church to grow into deeper and stronger disciples of Jesus. The Fruit of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul talks about here is one way we can tell that we are growing as followers of Jesus.
Faith is about what we believe, but it's also about who we believe in and how we allow that person to shape us and our lives. Since the one we have faith in is Jesus, I want to explore through the Fruit of the Spirit what it might look like when we allow Jesus through the Holy Spirit to shape our day to day lives. It's important to understand that we are not allowed to pick and choose which of these parts of the Fruit of the Spirit we will change in, it's all one fruit, not fruits, so it is expected that in each of these areas we are going to allow the Spirit to change us. One last thought for today, it is not a passive thing we are engaging in as we allow the Holy Spirit to change us, we are called to throw all our energy into partnering with the Holy Spirit in the changes he is working in us.
Next time I will do some thinking about love as a part of the Fruit of the Spirit and over the weeks and months ahead, I'll tackle each one of the others as well. There are some I am really looking forward to reflecting on, but I will be honest and admit that there are some that the Holy Spirit and I have a lot to work on yet and these I'm not as eager to explore, but that is all part of continuing to grow as a follower of Jesus.