Fruit of the Spirit:
May 8, 2022
Indulge me for a second and think about how you might have the Fruit of the Spirit in your life.
Rom 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
A Roman would say with his mouth that Caesar is Lord…Paul knew, however, that they really didn’t believe this. There is another TRUE kingdom and if you want to be saved, you can make a declaration and fully step into it and believe it with your whole heart and be saved. The NT says that when you believe, you are given the holy Spirit with God’s characteristics. But you cannot have these without making a proclamation.
The Dude Abides John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. I will tell you the following illustration about abiding:
I was going to have Rod come up here while I’m speaking and have a rope tied to me and stand with me in the space of the camera and when I got outside of the camera, he could pull me into the frame.
In the Greek, abide means: To stay in a place: to remain in a sphere; to stand against opposition; to hold out or stand fast; to stay still (in one place); To remain, to endure, to stay in force: To abide means to do all of these with Jesus. My whole self, my whole force of being will abide with Him.
What does this look like? One more illustration: When I got married, I had to go through pre-marriage counseling. It’s helpful. But in my counseling, we did things like teach me how to lock the doors of our house (that actually took a whole session!). He said he would not marry us unless I promised to go on a date every single week. For 26 years, I have honored this! When I do this, I’m forced to sit across from her and look at her. We create spaces to abide!
Paul tells us a few ways we can abide: Rom 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Be present! This is very difficult for people today. We are thinking about what happened or what will happen: it’s hard for us to be PRESENT! Paul was saying to be present with God: All there! Do this but don’t conform to the world. One translation says, “Do not abide with the world.” The world refers to three things: the world’s way of thinking of things, the world’s structures, and the world’s authorities. Don’t make what you are into what the world is. To do this, you must renew your mind.
Back to the dating illustration: Dating weekly is a structure for abiding in a marriage. Likewise, we should take advantage of the spiritual structures given to us to learn to abide with Jesus. You need to create structures for yourself to pray, fellowship with others who are not abiding in the world’s structures, renew your mind, etc.
Today we are going to talk about peace: All the fruits are interconnected: together, they are the character of God laid over his followers. Recently I was watching a YouTube economist and he said the last 100 years have been the most peaceful time in world history. My personal experience of the world in the last 50 years in my lifetime, however, has been that things are NOT peaceful! So, what is this peace?
Some of you will be upset because of the scriptures I leave out today. Instead, I will talk primarily about the garden in Genesis. Chapters 1 and 2 talk about a beautiful poetic narrative of the world’s creation. In Gen 1:26 God creates man, male and female, in His image: people who reflect God and who are like Him. He says, “be fruitful and multiply and rule over the rest of creation.” He gives them purpose and his name (the donkey doesn’t have God’s name!). To be clear, it is interesting that there is no turmoil! This is the definition of peace!
Chapter 2 says woman was created and presented to man and then he begins to quote some poetry. The last statement of Chapter 2 says they were naked and unashamed. A Harvard lecturer analyzed flood stories: these could be traced several thousand years back as accurate. This little line about unashamed got passed on over and over…the writers said that the most intimate moment is peaceful.
Shalom: The whole body in complete peace. Jews are really saying “I hope your life is like the garden.” Adam and Eve were in relationship with each other and with God. This was perfect and good. But then we reach Chapter 3: They decide god’s instructions are not good and they have a conversation with a snake and get convinced to eat from the wrong tree and have curses fall on them:
1. You are an adversary with the animals
2. You are an adversary with your garden
3. There is no longer a peaceful relationship with you and your spouse. You are now in conflict.
This was because they wanted to be God and they would no longer obey. You know what the feeling is as a child when you disobeyed and knew it: you feel shame, anger, a narrative that Mom doesn’t know what she’s talking about which turns into lies. Broken relationship is the narrative of the rest of our lives! The problem is that everything is broken. Peace has been broken.
When we talk about the Fruit of the Spirit of Peace, we are talking about the beautiful, perfect relationship in the garden when everything was at peace.
Rom 8:6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the spirt is life and peace.
You understand that death is fair: You don’t like death but, in the end, you know you are broken and cannot undo it. The only way to fix it is for you not to be here. A mind governed by disobedience is death. But about a life governed by God’s Spirit, Paul says it is life and peace.
You can begin to repair all these broken things if you have Jesus. But in the world, you try to fix these things on your own. But a life governed by the spirit gives you peace.
John 14:277 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus is not fixing things for you; he is repairing things between you and God. Anxieties go away: you will have it but it doesn’t define you. Jesus says you don’t need to narrate your story with anxiety as the center. Who you are is in Christ covered by the blanket of the Spirit. Everything may go crazy: you will have the security that you are with me all the time. I will walk through everything with you. This is powerful if we arrange our lives where we have ABIDE spaces: Places where we connect to the Spirit and my mind can be renewed and my life can be defined by Jesus.
Phil 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Paul says to the Philippians (first European church) what did you do? Paul did three interesting, linked things that we need to do for the God of peace ot be with us:
1. Sought out God-fearing people?
2. Freed spiritually and economically oppressed individuals?
3. Cared for others while suffering?
We are called to bring the internal peace of Jesus to others. We do it by going out!
The word Practice = exercise. We should practice/exercise what Paul tells us to do.
Acts 16 Paul likes to talk to Jews because they “get it.” He looks for the Jews and finds them at the river, praying. If you want to experience this, go look for people who are friendly to Jesus. Imitate him! He meets Lydia and tells her about Jesus. He lives at her house for a time.
He is wandering around and a slave girl bothers him: she is a soothsayer. He is reluctant to free her, and she is not useful to her master any longer. The second thing we must do is to free spiritually and economically oppressed individuals: we must look for these people. He gets in trouble for this, and people don’t like him freeing people. They find Paul and beat him with rods and put them in jail.
(When Eric stubs his toe, he is overwhelmed)
If I had been beaten with rods, I would not like to do what Paul did: SING loudly so everyone could hear them. An earthquake happens and a bunch of people become followers of Jesus. They cared for people while they were suffering! I don’t like to do this when I’m suffering.
My plantar fasciitis flared up and I was in pain: I was having a hard time thinking straight. There is no way I wanted to sing songs or meet with people that day! But Paul abided with Jesus and had the fruit of Peace: his story wasn’t about suffering! Instead, they are with the God of peace. If we tell a story about our suffering, our pain gets worse. But if I see it as an identity (or my anxiety or my depression) as the center part of me, then I don’t care about others. The thing that the Spirit offers us is GARDEN, SHALOM.
When Jesus was resurrected, it opened the opportunity for us to subdue the earth once again, multiply, have a relationship with God and have our sins paid for, and have God with us wherever we go.
SO, take advantage of the structures you have been given! Listen to sermons, find spaces to abide. But go further: be around unbelieving people around me. Ask what is the oppression that they suffer? Our job is to bring the God of peace to them. We may mourn, we may rejoice…remember Paul in the middle of the jail being beaten as he was signing and praying.