If you are just joining us, welcome! We are in the midst of a look at the building blocks of discipleship. The first week, we looked at what we believe but also how we believe. An identity more than fleeting idea. Now we are shifting gears to look at the transformation process concluding today in a new harvest. So far we have seen the process of receiving the Holy Spirit as belief prods us to baptism, and seen how the Holy Spirit works as he cuts through the hardness of heart—counseling us when we are teachable, but as we look at the second building block of a disciple BECOME—we find the beauty of…
Counseling Leads to New Harvest (Galatians 5:22-25) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. These elements lived out to the full are the very essence of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated God’s love for us. We proclaim “Joy to the World” since we have found the “Prince of Peace.” On and on it goes, in living out the fruit of the Spirit we are actually taking on Christ-likeness. It isn’t a coincidence that God puts application at the heart of each element that goes into a disciple. Relationship with the Spirit of God, leads to relationship with those around us. Against such things there is no law. In fact, where our spiritual ancestors failed to follow God wholeheartedly, that the law’s very essence is fulfilled—loving God and loving the people around us as if they were ourselves. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. When we live by the Spirit we are able to walk in cadence to the symphony of Scripture.
When is this new harvest coming? Where is self-control when I open my mouth and insert my foot? Where is love when I am consumed by anger? Peace when prone to march to war? It reminds me of a conversation between an older Christian woman in her 80’s and a 21 year old that recently had been baptized in her church. For a month after his baptism he was elated, on fire, and excited. Yet, on this Sunday the woman found the 21 year old in the sanctuary praying before service obviously upset and she asked him what was wrong. He told her that he didn’t know what was wrong with him—he was frustrated that he had fallen short of his new life, sinned again, and wasn’t sure of what to make of it—The woman smiled a knowing smile and replied, “Young man, keep in mind that crucifixion is always a slow death!” Jesus had called us to follow him to Calvary—take up your cross and follow me—and yet the process isn’t overnight but on-going. Here is the beauty that unfolds in faithfully and intentionally becoming like Christ!
Lee Strobel, in his book, Case for Christmas shared a story from his early journalism days. He was tapped with writing a story on the poorest family he could find in Chicago. The family (a mother and her two daughters) had nothing on their walls, one cup of rice, one bed, and daughters shared a sweater on their cold early morning walk to school. After publishing his piece, he decided to check in on the family, it was Christmas Eve after all. When he walked into the house it had been transformed. Readers had generously sent the family clothes, gift cards, and toys. Lee was surprised though to find the family boxing up some of the items. He asked if they were disappointed in what they got. The mother replied that they were so grateful for all they had received. She added that she couldn’t keep all that stuff knowing that her neighbors had nothing. “After all, these gifts are great, but the greatest gift comes tomorrow in Jesus Christ.” The comments left Lee shook, as an atheist, he was wondering what is it about this Jesus that caused a family with nothing to give away stuff when they got something. The fruit of the Spirit allowed him to see a picture of Christ.
If you read John Grisham or like law dramas, think of what happens as double jeopardy, Double jeopardy is the law that it is illegal or unjust to try and/or punish a person for a crime that they have already been convicted of. We find that Jesus Christ has already been crucified on the cross for the sins of the world—and that as we receive the Spirit, embrace the counseling and live out the fulfillment of the law—we take on the Image of Christ—meaning that we no longer can be tried or convicted of what Christ bared on our behalf.
I like the quote by John Owen who builds off the foundation of belief: Every time we say we believe in the Holy Spirit, we mean we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it. Nowhere along the way were you meant to stay exactly the same through relationship with Jesus Christ. Stagnation has no place when the Holy Spirit is given space. Growth isn’t an option, it is an outlet. Relationship isn’t a responsibility it is a natural response. If you aren’t being changed, it isn’t because God doesn’t have the power to change you, it isn’t because God doesn’t have the desire to change you, it isn’t because you don’t have excess to what can change you, for the disciple of Jesus Christ—we have to embrace the Holy Spirit and put the second building block in place.