Christian behavior vs the behavior of Jesus.
It comes up with street people and I have asked the same question of why “Christians” do not behave or love like Jesus. The answer is pretty simple, a person will bear the fruit of who and what they worship. “Christianity” can be rooted in going to church, giving money to a church, attending Christian events and reading Christian books, memorizing the Bible, singing Christian songs, belonging to a particular denomination or political party, pursuing marriage and raising Christian children, finding spiritual parents/mentors/priests/pastors or a Pope to follow, outward signs of piety, or in charismatic circles displays of miracles/signs/wonders. None of these things produce the fruit of God’s Spirit. None of these things mean a person is right with God, in relationship with God, following Jesus!
Jesus stated quite plainly, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide (remain, stay in close connection and relationship (intimacy)) with me, then you WILL bear good fruit.” This means relationship, personal relationship with Jesus on a daily and continual basis is what empowers a person to bear the fruit of God’s likeness. Whatever parts of our lives that are bearing fruit, God comes along and prunes to produce even more fruit.
Religion does NOT produce the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, reading the Bible and connecting with other people who believe in God does help with the journey. You can read the Bible, spend all your life in church, and end up in hell. God did not send Jesus to increase the roll number at churches. God sent Jesus to reconcile the world to Himself and expand His family.
I have encountered people more in love with their church than Jesus. More in love with their spouse than Jesus. More in love with their political party than Jesus. More in love with miracles, signs, and wonders than Jesus. More in love with money or power than Jesus. More in love with looking like a Christian than obeying Jesus. If a person does not abide in the real Jesus of Nazareth, they will NOT bear the fruit if His love, character, or likeness.
It’s not a pull yourself up by your bootstraps type of deal. It is a sink into knowing Jesus and pursue close relationship with God.
“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons and daughters of God.” Those without the indwelling of God’s Spirit do not have the seal of God upon them.
I am not against Christian events and the outward expressions of celebrating God. I do know, as Jesus knew, with the Pharisees that you can spend your life thinking you know God because you’re religious and completely miss God. Jesus stood before the Pharisees and they rejected Him. They had their religious feasts and the Torah. They had the Law. They had their outward expressions of righteousness and piety. What they did not have was personal relationship with the Messiah.
Relationship with God is not complex. It is a conversation and yielding of one’s heart and life. It is choosing to say yes to the stirring of God on the heart. “Yes, God I long to follow you. I repent of my sins (the ways I have lived outside your holiness). I accept that apart from you I can do nothing. I want to know you for myself. I yield my life to you. Come live in my heart. I thank you for Jesus. He who knew no sin took on my sins. He is God’s Son. The sinless One who died and rose on the third day. He triumphed over life’s greatest enemy-death, for me. Jesus be Lord over my life. God fill me with your Spirit.” The next steps involve inviting God into each day. Yield to the nudging of God. Listen and follow. It’s about relationship.
The more we abide (sink into personal relationship with Jesus), the more we begin to think like Jesus, love like Jesus, and display the character traits of Jesus. When Christians place the real Jesus first, then their behavior shifts to be more like the Christ (anointed one). Sadly, when being religious replaces relationship, what manifests is behavior that does not mirror Jesus at all.
Let’s be ones who abide in Jesus and display His glory (reputation) on earth.