Thinking on another today’s perception while having my morning coffee, I come to you with these thoughts. Are we an accurate representation of Christ, individually or corporately? I had this question posed to me during a class I am taking and I thought it made for good discussion or at the very least I hope, thought provoking. There is so much in Galatians 5:17-26 to use to demonstrate my thoughts, what about you?
Galatians 5:17-26 says,
17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Accurately so, the Bible, God, points out that the flesh and spirit will be in opposition with one another in verse 17. All in existence battle this everyday due to our sin nature; there is no way around it. We are warned what the deeds of the flesh are in verses 18 to 21 in this passage. Looking at these adjectives of human behavior it is no stretch of the imagination that is how people in general act today. This topic specifically relates to Christians but Christians are human and flawed just the same. We all have temptations to deal with. Some quiet as we become Christ-like in our nature and some will always be our Achilles heel to guard against evil. This is part of growing in Christ, having a relationship with God.
In doing so, we attain attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. This does not make us perfect just better than we were, more like the person we were created to be. Here is the problem, many make claims we should be perfect and even expect it from one another. The non-Christians or spiritually immature Christians cry “hypocrites” if we are not perfect and those in churches cry it at the leaders. When we mere humans fail someone from our perfect pedestal, we fall. The Church however is made up of people, flawed and sinful people.
It is unrealistic.
Verse 24 states those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires. As we become more like Him I would agree but this is not an overnight success. There are particular sins we are vulnerable to and struggle with. We must always be on watch and mindful.
In versus 25 and 26, a point is made to the corporate level of Christianity. If we live by the spirit let us walk by it. Now it is getting tricky by suggesting we practice what we preach. This is amusing, almost, when we consider the amount of fighting amongst ourselves within our own church walls or towards other doctrines for example. It is so visual with scandal and church division. We are told to not be boastful, challenge one another, or envy- but we do. We boast our doctrine over others, we challenge our leadership, we envy materials other are blessed with within our churches. None of this is fruit of the Spirit worthy.
So let me ask this question from the book I am reading by Elmer Towns, “What is it about local churches that so many misunderstand Christianity? What can churches do to become a better reflection of Christianity?” The reality is if we are not practically applying the Word to our life, why are we playing church at all? Here is a problem I see, the majority of Christians do not even know the scripture I quoted, where the Lord’s Prayer is, or the Ten Commandments. They cannot tell you how many books there are in the Bible or what they are. Today’s Christian cannot tell you whom the disciples are, who wrote the books of the Bible, or what the tenets of our faith are- our very foundation.
So the question becomes, what religion are they following and why?
Coming back to what we can do- here it is. Matthew 28:19-20a says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Jesus is very clear about discipling and mentoring other people. He is clear about teaching them God’s Word and His laws to obey. Jesus is very clear to teach obedience pertaining to all He has commanded. Our people say they are too busy to mentor or they are inadequate. Jesus did not say if we have time or felt like it but to do it. He will do everything if we let Him guide us instead of trying to control everything. We must teach people the Bible, Gods Truth and not mans, and come along side our people to teach them our history, not mans twisted version. In doing so our odds of avoiding false teachers warned against in 2 Timothy 2 increase, and they are raised up to become mentors one day.
We must be the Deacons, Elders, and Titus of our church as we are told to be in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2. Our leaders and we are called to a higher standard, a Godly standard. Quit comparing each other. Quit giving reasons for scandal but instead be a person or couple to look up to.
We must get our priorities in order. God is not last. God is first. God has become the priory of “if I get to it.” Instead of being first, he is behind family, friends, TV, hobbies, house chores, church ministry, a job, and list could go on and on. Why? God is not vocally in your face demanding like a screaming child or a phone call from a friend. However, our eternity is on the line and that should scream the loudest.
If our people knew what the Bible said there would be passion. If our people had mentors and leaders to look up to, we would strive to be better people. If our priorities we in order we would not be looking for the newest quick fix to fill the void meant for God. We would not thirst again and yet we are dehydrated. The world does not avoid knocking on our doors needing Jesus because our music stinks or we do not have the right coffee but because our life does not look any different from theirs. Why do they need Jesus to be the way they already are? They don’t. We need Jesus just as much.
If we want to change perceptions, we need to change our own. What do you say?
Towns, E. (2007). Core Christianity. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.