Proving to be disciples
written by Michael McBane
Below is one of the more insightful quotes concerning spiritual growth I have read in some time.
"It is quite possible for the church to be both growing and not bearing fruit of the Spirit. What is happening in many cases is that the church is simply cultivating at the center of its life the seeds that the dominate culture has sown in its midst. As a result, the seeds that the spirit has sown are all but being choked out, and the fruit that is being brought to the harvest has little or no likeness to the Spirits fruit." Philip Kennesson
And what are the fruits of the Spirit? Defined by scripture, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
This in scripture presents an interesting dilemma, for clearly there are those who belong to Christ and decide to walk in such a way that they are progressing to fruitfulness. They subject themselves to the seasons of the Lord which bring pruning. Are they always happy in this stripping, no but they have allowed His grace and mercy to overlap life. What then does this say to those who remain the same? It certainly does not enlarge the providence of Gods purpose. If we draw people to mere knowledge about Jesus they will rarely be ignited to live in the boundless passion that comes from relationship which must bear fruit because he or she abides.
I have always come back to this, do we tell the stories of Jesus among us, past, present and future? If not we cannot expect much more then historic references. Many have taught people not to hear God but to have another hear God for them. The culture that nurtures this is weak and far from the heart of God. But wait even those who speak of such liberty can be guilty of constraint because the body is held in check by the patterns of community. Few allow the equilibrium of life tilted. And if we have been brought the sudden distress of spiritual vertigo do we turn and say, “Yes Lord”? Few will or do because we are not so inclined. Hence we begin a question of is God, will God which are not bad inquisitating thoughts. But our faith takes back the opportunity to see God be God in any way because we take back from HIm what He offers in Himself. As someone pointed out to me in a recent conversation we doubt God’s authority when we hit the rock. When God does not perform according to our ways, our plans.
To return to the quote, Kenneson provides an observation that indicts us of spiritual treason. He extracts something that is not only true but it is sin. He says a church can grow and not bear fruit because the core culture of those who make up a particular church body allows the core of their culture to dominate. The social influence, the comfort or even discomfort of life which one can become so accustomed to that it becomes an identity in itself chokes out the life that the Holy Spirit sows. It can be a culture that dwells on a particular emphasis of what God has done or may be doing so much so that life outside of this particular influence is heartbreaking and less then inviting. These places can become a junk yard of potential life gone bad. But again because they have allowed the core of a cultural influence to choke the full life of God out they do not see this and can at times be desensitized to the conviction of God and aggressive in defense of what they think they represent spiritually. They no longer adapt to Christ but to a gift or sphere of something that represents Christ.
My friends this is a deep rooted problem so deeply rooted that even those who may be astute in desire are entrapped. I dare say that no one that I know is free and clear of such hindrance including myself.
In some ways the issue described is because faith has been reduced to mere belief. We do not follow because we have been restrained by spirits that control the hearts of those who form many of our communities. Faith is a gift as is our salvation as is our maturation and sanctification. We cannot love God unless He activates us to do so. We cannot love mankind as Christ unless we also allow the love of God to dominate us, to erase our previous programing continually. Jesus tells us , “that apart from Him we can do nothing.” Unfortunately there is a tendency to reduce the sayings of Jesus to a cultural accommodation in the Christian community. How can this be?
Our hard drives are littered with holes that cause us to default into wasted space that may drop our hearts into traps that lock us down. It is a continual decision of our will to follow therefore we must demand of our flesh a content submission of who we are, who we have been and even who or what we think we are to be or become.
We take what Christ has apprehended for us casually so much so that we do not allow the offered priesthood of the believer to ignite into the destined place before God. We do not then participate with God as joint heirs. We do not partner with Him in purpose.
Our transfer from a kingdom of darkness to God’s Kingdom is not a fairy tale it is a reality that must be pondered to the point that we submerse our body, soul and spirit into that provision. We may not totally apprehend it in our day but we must retrain our mindsets to step into this dimension.
To bear fruit we must be in relationship.
We are told to be fruitful and multiply, this has been the word of the Lord since the beginning. God has always desired us to reflect His nature. When we contain the life we are given we become stale what we have been given by the Holy Spirit is like the manna of heaven if it is hoarded it becomes stale and actually no longer nourishes. We must be released in our faith to cast our bread out, cast it upon the waters and expect it to return.
Jesus told us that His Father was glorified when we bear fruit, and that by doing so..bearing fruit, we so prove that we are His disciples.
So Jesus is asking is there proof of what you speak? Are you a disciple? Or do you merely believe?
I know there is so much spoken about the glory of God, and certainly this is multi dimensional. But when Paul speaks of going from glory to glory he is I believe examining fruitfulness. He is speaking of an authentic church that has it priorities straight and therefore they take up the cross and follow HIm. Here they apprehend all the strength and life offered in the resurrection.
Let us empty of hearts, our souls, our minds so that we can be fruitful and thus prove that we are followers of Jesus Christ.