Friday, March 25, 2011

walk the walk

At our recent church service, our pastor was talking (again) about evangelising, and how important it is for us to actively approach people and tell them about Christ. As part of his sermon, he even had us turn to our neighbour to tell the person something about God and what He had done for us (obviously most of us had nothing to say in those brief, awkward minutes).

Well now clearly I'm all for sharing the Good News with everyone; I think it's so important to tell people who don't know God about His power and goodness, and what better way than to share one's own personal experiences. But I think that that can only be done if the person himself is wanting to know, is seeking that greater knowledge of God.

I'm not so sure about just going up to random people and launching into a whole spiel about how great Christianity is and why you need to be good and save your soul. The pastor even told us how some thugs wanted to beat him up for staring at them, but when he told them he wanted to share the Gospel with them, they immediately beat a hasty retreat. Honestly, I really think people who aren't seeking God just won't want to stop and listen to you.

BUT, they might stop and watch you, and they'll see if you live a holy life, if you really are a witness for Christ, if you actually walk the walk. If you go around depressed and fearful, bad-tempered and unkind, critical, harsh, uncaring or intolerant, then it'd be pretty hard to believe you're a victorious Christian. But if you show yourself to always be full of the fruits of the Holy Spirit...

What are these fruits? Love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), and self-control (self-restraint, continence) (from Galatians 5:22, Amplified). They are the "fruits" that a Christian should be producing in his or her life. They are of the Spirit -- the Holy Spirit -- which means they come from God, not us. We need God's help to develop these qualities in ourselves (for I'm sure most of us know we are quite some ways from having or achieving them on our own), and so we must pray for -- and practise -- them in our lives till they are truly natural to us, part of our own characters, and visible for all the world to see.

Matthew 7:16 says "You will fully recognise them by their fruits". Do people recognise us Christians by our fruits, the way we live? Sadly, I don't think that's always so.

I think it would be so much better to do as St. Francis of Assisi said: Preach the gospel always -- if necessary use words.

Coincidentally, I just received this "Weekly Wisdom" from Christ Notes, entitled "A mature Christian "preaches" with his or her life":

Many times we try to talk people into accepting Jesus, but yet we fail to show them Jesus; we don't act any differently than the rest of the world, even though we claim to be saved. The world isn't looking for talk; it wants walk. Therefore, we, as Christians, must live differently: stop telling, and start showing.

Matthew 7:20 tells us how to recognize truly mature Christians: "by their fruit." Stop worrying about the outward show that you put on in front of your friends, and start developing the Fruit of the Spirit in your inner life (see Galatians 5:22-23). Then once you have learned to be kind, gentle, peaceful and joyful even during difficult circumstances, non-Christians will see you and say to themselves, "I want what you've got." Then, you will be able to share Jesus with them effectively.

We need to develop the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Interestingly, the first Fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is "love." Furthermore, in John 13:35, Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." In other words, love ought to be the trademark of every believer.

It is by living a life of love that you make the world hungry and thirsty for the joy, kindness, patience, peace, and stability that you have. The world isn't reading the Bible; they're reading Christians like you. And if they don't like what they see in you, they're not going to want what you've got—Jesus.

From Christ Notes' Weekly Wisdom

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