Sunday, July 2, 2017

If and Only When~

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

As we sat in Children's church,
reviewing the fruit of the Spirit,
I asked the following questions:

"What kind of fruit would an apple tree grow?"

"An apple!!!" the children replied.

"What kind of fruit would an orange tree grow?"

"An orange!!!" the children said is unison.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

It wasn't the answer I had in mind,
but it was more than an answer to the question I had asked.

If we as Christians,
allow the Holy Spirit
to have His way,
to live in us and through us,
to grow
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
and self control in us,
we will indeed grow other Christians.

When hate is answered back with love.
When despair is answered back with joy.
When strife and unrest is answered back with peace.
When short-tempered is answered back with patience.
When meanness is answered back with kindness.
When doing wrong is answered back with goodness.
When betrayal is answered back with faithfulness.
When sternness is answered back with gentleness.
When human reaction is answered back with self-control.

This is when Jesus is seen.
This is when hearts are drawn to know Him more.
This is when a seed that will produce a "Christian"
is sowed into another heart.

But - sadly,
we don't always choose to represent Christ
in the beauty and truth
of who He is.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

His words broke my heart.

Partly because I have been in his shoes,
but mostly,
mostly because I could only imagine
how this whole scenario
must have broken the heart of Jesus, Himself.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

A grown man,
he told the story of growing up in church.
How each week his Sunday School teacher
scolded him,
pointed out every wrong thing he did,
and told him
if he didn't straighten up,
he was going to Hell.

One day she added,
"What's wrong with you, boy?
Don't you want to be with Jesus?
Don't you want to go to Heaven?"

A mere six year old,
he lowered his face to the ground
and shook his head, "no".

The teacher was appalled.

"You don't want to go to Heaven?
How could you not want to go to Heaven?"

This young boy,
with all the innocence and honesty
his heart could muster into words,
looked up at this "woman of God" and replied,
"Well, you're going to be there, right?
I, uh well, I just don't want to be there.
I don't think I would like it there
with you and Jesus,
especially with no way to leave
or ever go home."

And, who could blame him
for coming to this conclusion,
for deciding if Jesus was anything like this woman,
he didn't want anything to do with Heaven,
or anything to do with Jesus?

Thankfully,
as a child,
most of the people who told me about Jesus,
not only talked about Him,
but walked out the beauty and love of Him
in their lives.

Sadly,
as an adult, however,
this hasn't always been the case.
Those professing to be Jesus followers,
those serving in His name,
those called into ministry,
have been some of the most un-Christlike people
I have known.

If they were the only view I had of Jesus,
if they were all that I glimpsed of His character and heart,
if they were who I thought Jesus was like,
just like this young boy,
I wouldn't want anything to do with
Jesus or Heaven, either.

Especially not forever and ever and ever and ever.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

And, I sit here thinking of me.

What is it that people see
when they watch my life?

How is this Jesus I talk about
being conveyed
to their hearts?

Am I a deterrent?
Am I causing people to turn tail and run
as far from God as they can?

And, I'm reminded again of the answer given by a child -
so simple and yet so profound we cannot afford to
simply skip past it,
simply chuckle at the simplicity of it,
simply move on.

The value of a soul depends on us
unwrapping this,
unpacking it,
digesting it,
and living it out in our life.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

But, 
if and only when
the Holy Spirit is living in our heart.








  
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