Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Death and Fruit

There are a couple (dozen) concepts with which I have had ongoing problems. Kent and I are currently involved in a study on listening to God and living by faith that has generated a lot of good discussion and shared insight. As a result, I think I'm starting to better understand some of the problem concepts.

Death, or "Dying to self" has often tripped me up. How much of myself do I die to? If I die to me, then what am I to be like. I can't possibly be Jesus-like. At least not without my physical death. I screw up way too much for that. If I'm not me, then who am I? I see a whole culture of evangelicals who are looking for rules and templates of who they should be, what they should do -- where are the lists? What are the parameters? And then I'm looking at the fruit of the Spirit.

You know, I can't grow that fruit. It's not in me. How am I supposed to have that fruit. I want that fruit. That fruit looks really good. But I'm completely incapable of producing it.

And then I get the good news - I can't grow that fruit. But I can die. And that fruit shows me what needs to die.

Galation 5:22-23
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, against such there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

This scripture comes right after the list of the obvious deeds of the flesh which include immorality, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness, carousing, etc. I think what I have found confusing is that there is a distinction between these and the fruits (duh, really?). It's like comparing apples to oranges for me and that has tripped me up. The deeds of the flesh are actions, activities, outword manifestations. The fruit of the Spirit is about character. The character may determine the actions but they are not one in the same. Or at least looking at it this way helps me understand better. Also helpful is looking at what, for me, are the opposities of the fruit in my own self. I put it this way:

Kristine 10:14-09

But the fruit of the self is
love, hatred, jealousy,
joy, anger, depression,
peace, anxiety, worry,
longsuffering, impatience,
kindness, meanness,
goodness, cruelty,
faithfulness, faithlessness,
meekness, pride,
self-control, self-indulgence;

Which are sin.

God made me unique with my own humor, intellect, expression, learning styles, etc. That isn't what needs died to. I die to my right to be angry, jealous, impatient, etc. This is about my character, not my actions. I can't make myself feel joy, but if I willingly relinquish my right to my anger, then God can put His joy in me. If I give up my right to impatience and my own schedule of how I think things should play out, then God can give me His patience.

Now, all I have to do is remember this every 2 seconds because that's about how often I have a selfish thought or motivation. Then die to that self and let God grow my character.

And here's another thought that is percolating thought not quite distilled yet...
That also helps explain another dilemma I have had... how do I live in the kingdom when I'm stuck in this cesspool?

Thy kingdom come, they will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Each time I die to myself, let my Lord and Ruler give me His character, and live according to kingdom rules, then that kingdom comes to earth. So I think that kingdom living has something to do with abiding in the vine, dying to my selfish nature, letting God grow my character and then, no matter where I go, I'm kingdom living.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

I enjoy reading your musings, crafty ideas, and general updates of moving into new phases. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I've added your blog address to my one-click, always-visible Favorites bar. And while I'm affected by what you wrote 14th Oct while looking at all the fruit art makes me hap-hap-happy, I'm wondering WHEN THE NEXT POST IS COMING!!!!
All my love! Niece Valerie