I will be 33 next month and I’ve attended my church since I was 6 years old. My Pastor and his family are a part of my family. Church has always been a staple in my life. When you’re a kid, you go because your parents take you. As a teenager, you go because your parents make you. Then as an adult, you make the choice to go. I never stopped going to church because I knew that’s where I needed to be. However, I was just going through the motions. People around me knew I went to church because I grew up in church, not because of the way I was living my life.
A common phrase in the church is, ‘you’ll know them by their fruits.’ It’s paraphrasing a passage in Matthew 7:15-20 that references false prophets. This absolutely applies to Christians in general, not just those in ministry. What does it mean to know a Christian by their fruits? Simply stated, Christians should display the characteristics of Christ. We will never be equal to Christ. He is perfect in all ways and there is no perfect Christian. However, we should strive to be like Him always.
The Bible even gives us a guide in Galatians 5:22-23 stating, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Forbearance is a synonym for patience. These are the fruits we should bear! Christians are held to a higher standard by God. We are to be in the world, because how else will we win souls for Him? But we should not be of the world, meaning our light should be recognizable to others. They should know there is something different about us and want to know more.
For many years, I was in the world and of the world. I was proof that attending church is not enough. I sat under the same wonderful teaching that I’m sitting under now but my spiritual ears were turned off. Was I good person? Yes. Did I love Jesus? Yes. Was I fully living for Him? No, I wasn’t. There is a distinct difference in attending church and being a true Christian.
Over the last year, when the world has seemingly been at a stand still, I have been undergoing a spiritual transformation. The astonishing state of this world caused me to question everything. I quickly found that the only thing I have never questioned was God. Even though I wasn’t living in the fullness of Him at the time, I knew He was the one truth I could depend on. So in discovering that life as I knew it was essentially an illusion, I leaned further into God. I prayed like never before. I got into the Word. I then began to feel a difference in my spirit. My attitude improved. I became a better mom, a better wife, a better person. It was all God. He will change you. If you give Him the opportunity, He will do the rest!
So what was the problem before? Why had I been at the same church, listening to the same Biblical teachings for years and still ended up at a point of complacency? Honestly, I was like a lot of Christians today, treating the Bible like an all you can eat buffet. Picking and choosing what I wanted to get out of it. A perfect example is one of my favorite verses. Psalms 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” As a Christian in name only, that verse is perfect, right? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you what you want. Okay, I go to church and I’m a good person so He’s going to give me the desires of my heart! You’re the best, God! That’s just Biblical ignorance. Only now am I grasping the magnitude of that verse. Delight yourself in the Lord means to dedicate yourself fully to Him. Walk with Him, let Him guide your life. Then He will give you the desires of your heart. It’s such a beautiful promise from God and I completely missed the mark.
Friends, let God change you. 1 John 3:24 tells us, “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” When we delight in Him and live by His Word, He is faithful to us. When the world may seem hopeless, He is the hope you can cling to.
Until next time,