I find I am shocked and deeply dismayed at what happened at our nation’s capital building today. I am always hesitant to wade into the political life of our nation from my place as pastor of a church because I know politics can divide a congregation. The Elkhart congregation seems quite purple to me politically. We have both passionate Republicans and passionate Democrats in our family of faith. But I believe we can agree that our calling to be God’s own is first in our lives. We belong to Jesus Christ.
It is that identity as God’s children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ that I cling to tonight. I remember that we are called to live by certain values and to exhibit a specific character to the world because of the God to whom we belong. In this light I want to quote from Paul’s letter to Galatians as he describes the character of Christ’s own:
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. (Gal 5: 13 – 15)
Paul then goes on to delineate the characteristics of those who do not live by God’s spirit. These characteristics include among other things: idolatry, impurity, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissension, factions and envy. Paul concludes by contrasting these negative qualities with the “fruits of the spirit:”
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And 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 be guided by the Spirit. (Gal 5: 22-25)
Friends, we want to be people of the Spirit who exhibit the fruits of the Spirit of God. What I am especially mindful of tonight is that our world desperately needs people who can exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. Our world needs to see and experience people who are good. If you are troubled by what you see happening in our culture today, I would urge you to draw near to the Lord and let God’s ways shape your life so that you can truly be God’s person where you are. Our world needs Christian people who are guided by the Holy Spirit within.
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