I have been working on a sermon for this coming weekend and I have been doing a lot of thinking about the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Spiritual gifts, graces and fruit have been an interest of mine for some time (check out Equipped for Every Good Work and Beyond Money… if you can still find copies, since they are both now out of print) but each time I come back to lists of gifts or fruit, I start thinking about them in new (or at least different) ways. Paul lists nine signs (evidence) of true spirituality in Galatians. Christians will be known by their love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Love is agape — that wondrous, unselfish, all-encompassing, non-judgmental, unconditional love that most of us cannot possibly understand (because we want to withhold it from so many…). Joy is chara — unbounded exuberance and sense of well-being. Peace is eirene — either absolute balance and calm or the total absence of discord. Patience is makrothumia — which means “far-feeling” or tolerance, perseverance, long-suffering, or putting up with discomfort. Kindness is chrestotes — servant-like compassion and care extended to others, especially the stranger (what we often mean by “hospitality” today). Agathosune means doing for others, a form of charity — goodness in outward and tangible gifts and service — true generosity of heart and action. Faithfulness is pistis — hardcore belief and unwavering adherence to the highest values of holy living, those who are completely devoted to God. Gentleness is praotes — the humble acknowledgement that others are as good as, if not better than, we are — and that all those created in the image of God deserve respect and care. Self-control is egkrateia — literally “in-holding,” it means keeping it together and not allowing one’s emotions to run wild. Each of these Greek terms can be translated a number of ways, which makes their study rich and rewarding.
What comes clear quickly is that these fruit are not passive and pleasant, but are active and demanding. We must LIVE the fruit of the Spirit, not merely possess them. We need to “feed” others these fruit. But where my thinking has gone this time is in a slightly weird direction. Watching my wife dump oranges, pineapple, blueberries, bananas and cranberry juice in a blender the other day, I started thinking, “What would the result be if we dumped the fruit of the Spirit in a big blender and hit ‘puree’?”
I have three answers that have popped into my head, that I will share here, but I would love to hear what kind of “fruit smoothie” you come up with.
1. Love + joy + peace + patience + kindness + generosity + faithfulness + gentleness + self-control = justice. Compassion, mercy, caring for the weak and powerless, serving those outside the faith — these things are all implicit in the Greek words we translate as the fruit of the Spirit. We are the “fertile soil” in which God nurtures, cultivates, and grows the fruit, but it is grown to serve the entire world — not just the community of faith, but especially those beyond and outside. When I think of the fruit in combination, justice is the smoothie it creates. Justice will never happen by accident. It will only occur because people commit to ensure it happens. It will not happen without love. It will not happen without radical kindness and generosity. Without gentleness and self-control, we will not be motivated to do for others. Anyone possessing even one iota of faithfulness knows that justice isn’t an option, but an imperative. And a commitment to joy must be a commitment to joy for all or it is incomplete.
2. Family — not dysfunctional human family, but truly spiritual family grounded in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Who hasn’t wished to be part of a family like that? Wouldn’t it to be fantastic to find yourself gathered at a table where everyone truly loved and accepted everyone else? Wouldn’t it be great to be with people who you didn’t fear were judging or condemning you? Can you imagine being together without having to walk on egg shells and avoid delicate conversations? Wouldn’t it be simply amazing to be with others you know love and care about you without reserve — and you feel the same about them? That would be…
3. Heaven — do we want to experience the realm and kindom of God here on earth? What are we waiting for? A significant part of Jesus’ message, especially in Luke’s gospel, is that the kingdom has come, that God’s realm is not waiting in some far off day and time, but that it is possible now, well within our grasp if we will merely accept it. Living the fruit of the Spirit is experiencing the kingdom/kindom of God RIGHT NOW! There is absolutely no reason not to experience true Christian community today, apart from egotistical self-centeredness. The reason we do not experience it is because we do not want to. We think we know better than God. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We need to become fruit-farmers and fresh produce sellers. We have been given everything by God that we need to experience a taste of heaven on earth. We need to enjoy the goodness of God’s fruit and blend it in tasty ways and share it with the world. Why make it harder than it needs to be? If the world got the best of what we have to offer instead of the worst (bickering, judgment, divisiveness, arrogance, condemnation, etc.), perhaps our witness would make a bigger impact. To me, at least, it seems worth a try.
Categories: Christian witness, Devotional Reflection
This is hilarious. People are giving this a low rating because it doesn’t have to do with carrot juice lamo health food vegen ass-wipe stupidity. Sorry that your opinions are worthless. Maybe faith would help balance your life. Check out Jesus Christ. It might put your limited worldview in perspective.
I’ve always looked at the equation as such:
Joy + peace + patience + kindness + generosity + faithfulness + gentleness + self-control = love.
Wonderful and spot on. Your Fruit Loops post was one my all time favorites and this one is right there with it.
Oooo…I like the idea of a love feast! I wish I had time for it all! (I’m guest preaching at my home church while my lay speaker preaches at my 2 churches…I’m not exactly sure of timing/flow for the service. I’ve never preached/led worship at this church before). Blessings on your service…you have a tough job too.
The uncontrollable energy of a Living G*D’s Spirit would probably put some smoothie on the ceiling. Hopefully we would begin laughing without having to think about it. Everyone around might well get baptized by such a Spirit Smoothie.
Thanks for the image and PBJ’s Rocky Road addition. As a guest preacher I’ll be looking at processes that set-up the preparation, pureeing, and laughing – in particular, the 5 Tasks of an Intentional Transitional/Interim Minister.
I hope you will take some samples along or do a demo right there and let folks share in a Love Feast. It will be instructive if you can’t drink together in the sanctuary because of an unspoken tradition or written rules.
It’s interesting you had this title and idea…I have been planning this Sunday’s sermon for about a month now: “Rocky Road or Fruit Smoothie?” I’m pairing the Galatians 5 passage with the Luke lectionary passage for this week (9:51-62) where Jesus is turning towards Jerusalem. I haven’t written it yet (so it could change!) but I was thinking about how there are times in our lives that we have to make difficult decisions, we have to take the “road less travelled,” the “rocky road” towards Jerusalem. We know that it can bring pain and suffering, but God is always there. If we possess the Fruit of the Spirit, it can make our journey easier. But we can’t pick just one of the fruits, Paul says “fruit” not “fruits.” Meaning, we need all 9 to be living a Christian life. If we live a Christian life according to the Fruit of the Spirit, reaching out and helping others, then no matter what “rocky road” we venture down, what challenges/problems we face, we will have a smooth(ie) ride…and that is sweet. (pun intended!) I was planning on having a blender and 9 fruits during the sermon…and as I work through the sermon, have people come up to add in some fruit, and then blend it all up at the end. (I like interactive sermons). Interesting to see your different takes on the same metaphor! Blessings. PBJ