I just finished reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and it was altogether eye-opening, challenging and convicting. His description of a lukewarm Christian and those that are Christ-obsessed really pushed me to do an introspective examination as well as evaluate how I’m living my life here on earth in light of eternity. Chan states that “the life of a lukewarm Christian wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.” And if I were to be completely honest with myself, aside from not going to church every Sunday and reading the Bible on a regular basis, not much else would change if I stopped believing in God. He really pushed me to evaluate all aspects of my life, and imagine how different it would look if I surrendered each and every part to God in order to live a life that is truly obedient to the Cross.
I had to assess whether the fruit of the Spirit was being manifested
in my attitude, in my communication with others, in my relationships
with loved ones as well as my interactions with strangers.
The question, of whether my life would look any different if I stopped believing, moved me to first look inwards and examine my heart and what it was producing. I asked myself whether I was living by the Spirit and producing fruit that can only come from the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I had to assess whether the fruit of the Spirit was being manifested in my attitude, in my communication with others, in my relationships with loved ones as well as my interactions with strangers.
Am I living by the Spirit? Do I exercise patience with my loved ones? Do I display gentleness and self-control when rebuking my children? How is my tone of voice when I communicate with others? Do I always treat others with kindness? Do I exude joy? I think these are questions that we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis and surrender every one of them to God, especially those areas in which we are weak.
In light of Matthew 25:31-46, Chan challenges us to think of how our lives would change if we actually thought of every person we come into contact with as Christ. He mentions “the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed.” I seriously felt like he was speaking directly to me. Let’s say these are my areas of weakness, and my attitude in these situations has been far from commendable, or even downright disobedient to the Spirit. I have a funny feeling that God always puts me behind a slow car when I’m driving. Coincidence? I think not.
…we need to live by the Spirit,
be led by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit.
It’s a continuous process of daily surrender to God’s will
and letting the Spirit lead the way in the path of righteousness.
The biggest challenge yet is posed when Chan talks about love, of which Paul says in Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Chan reminds us that we are to love not only those that are lovable and can reciprocate our love, but we are also commanded to love our enemies and do good to them. This means that if someone hurts us, we don’t retaliate as the world would, but we forgive them and love them back instead. According to Chan, lukewarm Christians love those who are easy to love, those who love them back, like family, friends, and others they connect with. But he reminds us of Luke 6:32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” God commands us to love without expecting anything in return.
I realize that I cannot will myself to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Only the Spirit can produce its fruit in me. As it is emphasized in Galatians 5, we need to live by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit. It’s a continuous process of daily surrender to God’s will and letting the Spirit lead the way in the path of righteousness. It says in Galatians 5:5 “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.”
Have a blessed rest of the week!
I will be sharing how Crazy Love has challenged my outlook on life in my next Weekly Wisdom post.
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