The “Processed” Christian Life or the Real Thing?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

 I am against “skinny jeans.” Not on principle. However, for the record the fact that they fit so tight on your legs that they prevent you from bending your knees can’t be safe! No, I am against “skinny jeans” because at no point in my past, present or future life will I be able to wear them without looking like a tube of toothpaste that has all the paste squeeze up to the top! Taking “skinny jeans” off the table, I would still like to look decent in “normal jeans.” For this to become a reality, I have to exercise and diet. Ick… I know!

I have tried every imaginable system to beat the hard truth that I have to eat right, burn calories and avoid the Oreo cookies. We are on a new journey at our house. I am trying to change our eating habits. After doing a bunch of research (I researched during the holidays, of course, so that I didn’t have to start the journey while I had so much yummy food in the house) I found that the easiest and healthiest way to eat is to find things as close to their original form as possible. For example, apples are better for you than sweetened applesauce. My boys did make a good point this morning that meat needs to be in a bit of a different form. The less it looks like a cute little chicken the better it is for us over here. I have spent years reading labels trying to finagle the system so that I could still have the items that I love without the guilt. I am pretty sure that they are not being honest when they tell me that I am buying “Fat Free Half and Half”! What is the other half if it is fat-free?

 In Galatians, Paul shares with us what types of fruit a healthy spiritual and mental life produces. The list he gives is pretty clear. God wants us to show love and joy to others. He longs for us to feel peace and behave with longsuffering and gentleness to others. Our lives should be filled with goodness displayed through meekness and temperance supported by our faith. I look over this list and immediately go looking for the “Fat Free” version. I evaluate my life and check off love because I love my family and give to missions. I show joy. I smiled at the cashier after I gave her 47 coupons. I am much more peaceful (on the outside) than my co-workers when they announce cutbacks at work. Didn’t I teach Micah to always give others the benefit of the doubt when driving and be patient and longsuffering? Well, gentleness and goodness go without explanation because I am such a nice person. Of course I have faith. I go to church every Sunday. Temperance is easy. I am pretty sure it means that we don’t drink alcohol and meekness is widely misunderstood. Jesus doesn’t want us to be a doormat.

Suddenly, I realize that I am trying to substitute a “processed” version of what God wants us to be producing. Does tossing a few dollars in the mission offering look anything like the love for sinners Jesus modeled when his heart was broken and he was moved with compassion for the people in Matthew 9? Is doling out a tight smile consistent with living an abundant life full of joy talked about in John 10? My dependence on my job shows that I don’t really have a peace that puts my trust in God to supply my needs. (Phil 4:19) Do I actually “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works” at home and show longsuffering and goodness with those I love most? (Heb. 10:24) Do my words of correction to my children show a gentleness and meekness or am I annoyed at having to say things for the seven thousandth time? (Ephesians 4:15) Does the lack of balance in my professional and personal life undermine my claim of living with temperance? (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) Am I living an active life of faith or limiting God by only showing faith for salvation? (I John 5:4)

God wants us to produce fruit that is as close as possible to its original form. The original form is Christ. We can’t take a short cut on the processed or fat-free isle. We need to spend time digging in the dirt of the Word of God to produce the real thing.

 “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.”                     ~ Charles Wesley

Still Choosing Faith,