12th August 2012
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV UK)
The gospel is good news. It promises a new life beyond death; rich in joy, peace, love and friendship. It’s the good news of a life in communion with God, who loves you and wants you with him no matter who you are, where you’ve been or what you’ve done.
But the gospel is not always presented that way. Sometimes it’s presented as a way to get big houses, expensive cars and fancy clothes right now. Just “name it and claim it,” people are told. Sometimes it’s presented as an austere set of rules and regulations, overseen by a temperamental God who’ll roast you forever if you don’t measure up. Sometimes it’s presented as a desperate pyramid scheme in which the more people you fast-talk into joining up, the greater your eternal income will be.
Presented poorly, even the gospel can be misunderstood. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Instead, some believers let their pushy, memorised spiels turn people off to the gospel, causing them to thank heaven when they can avoid Christians. Polls have shown that most people would rather live next door to a used car salesman than to a Bible-thumping evangelical Christian!
But imagine if we could all share the gospel the way Jesus said to—by letting our light shine in such a way that people are won over instead of being put off. Imagine what a positive reputation the good news could have. That would present the gospel the way it really is—as a new life in Christ, a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—the way Galatians 5:22-23 describes it.
Jesus made it pretty simple. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). What if we did that? Wouldn’t that win more people over to the real power of the gospel? Testimonies certainly have their place, but it’s God’s love that overthrows death and hell. And people can warm up to genuine, godly love a whole lot easier than religious talk, pushy questions and judgmental frowns.
You might say, the proof is in the pudding, not in reciting the recipe.
Holy Father, help us not only to live our lives as you would have us do, but also to live them openly, transparently, for all to see. Help us to be the living embodiment of the Christ who lives within us, enabling him to live his life through us. But it isn’t easy for us, Father, and we need your help. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach