Article   -   Apr 27, 2022

One Fruit One Spirit

If the pandemic can bring us clarity on one thing, perhaps it is on the topic of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. A disciple of Jesus is learning to be like Jesus and, as important as it is to be a part of a weekly worship service, worship participation is not the most important thing in a disciple's life-far from it.

We've all known people who were worship attenders that didn't seem to be growing to be like Jesus, and in the same way we have all struggle through spiritually dry seasons where Jesus seemed remote, no matter how many worship services we attended. Followers of Jesus steadily become more like Jesus through the influence of the Holy Spirit but be careful you don't put the focus in the wrong place. The focus is not exclusively to imitate the good deeds of Jesus so much as it is to aspire to the virtues of Jesus.

One of the most helpful word pictures in the Bible of this kind of aspiritation is Paul's list of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. (Gal 5:22-23) CEB

It is helpful at this point to know that in Gal 5: 22-23 both the noun "fruit" and the verb "is" are singlular in the original Greek. There is only one fruit of the Spirit: the life of Christ formed in us. But this life can be made known to us in a host of different ways. This is important to note because it protects us from the mistaken impression that followers of Jesus must work on particular fruits in his or her own life. The truth is that we each have unique personalities with particular strengths and weaknesses. We are all called to love, each in our own way. We are all called to joy but joy might look different for you than for me. As Paul says in other places there are many members but one body (1 Cor 12:12). There are many personalities but one set of fruit.

God has created a diversity of personalities and the Holy Spirit makes use of each one as they were meant to be. For each of us, the focus is not on developing patience, but on being open to the Spirit. We don't need to crank up a practice of gentleness to be more in step with the Spirit, but instead we need to attend to the presence of the Spirit in order to be more gentle. Self control will come as we yield to the Spirit. As we yield to the Spirit, the fruit will come.

Marva Dawn writes that "the more we allow the Spirit to work in us the more truly we will reflect the life of Christ and the more thoroughly our lives will express the fruit of the Spirit according to the God-created proportions of our unique personal beings."* May the trials of these days form the character of Jesus in us. Amen.


*Marva Dawn, Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy, Eerdman Publishing Co, Grand Rapids MI (1993) p. 63