In my last blog entry I was directed to begin to explore love, and I knew that such an exploration would require a lot of time and probably some very real, hard lessons in my own life. I had thus resigned myself to the fact that, since the first description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is patience, most likely God would require patience of me to uncover it further. I knew, of course, that with patience one only understands it when one is required to walk in it, so I settled in to wait.
But today, I was side tracked a bit. I was driving by a church with a sign out front. I often read that sign, but until today I had been moved only mildly by their typical clichés. Today it said, “Does your behaviour reflect what you believe?” It gave me reason to pause. A good question for every Christian to ponder, perhaps a question not enough of us ask ourselves regularly, nor wait to find the answer to.
As I rolled this question around in my mind, I was suddenly struck by how many ways I could answer that. I could read it, pondering my latest “good deeds” and my general pleasing countenance and give myself a self-righteous check mark. Or I could read it, immediately engulfed in a cloud of guilt, hanging my head in shame, and vowing quite earnestly to make some immediate changes…again. Or I may, blind to the depth of my own sin compounded by my ignorance of the Scriptures, not actually see the vast chasm between my behaviour and what I profess to believe. And finally, I may even go so far as to bypass introspection altogether, and while ignoring the plank in my own eye, magnify the speck in the eye of my brother or sister in Christ.
These thoughts continued to whirl around in my mind. Then I put them down and looked to the Lord. The Lord says in John 15:5, “I am the vine. You are the branches. If anyone remains joined to Me, and I to him, he will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without Me.” Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Our own strength to live moral lives will waver depending on our mood, the situation, or a myriad of other things. In a time when so many people are leaving and rejecting the church, or falling further and further into a spiritual coma within it, this question is really asking us, “Are we abiding in Him?” Are we a church that abides? Are we a people who abide? Am I abiding? If we seek Him with all our hearts and minds and souls, if we, being sinners saved by His grace, by His blood, weeping with joy before an empty cross REALLY abide, the gap between our behaviour and our beliefs will close more and more and more. If the branch is attached to the vine it will bear fruit. It will.
Do I want to be alive in the Spirit? Do we as a church want to be alive? Do we want to be more than another “religion” full of hypocrisy and empty claims? Do we really want to reflect Christ to a world thirsty and hungry for REAL fruit? Then when we see a sign that reads, “Does your behaviour reflect what you believe?” we need to get down on our faces before our God and Father, and admit that it does not, and begin to seek Him with all that is within us. We must be willing to allow Him full access to change our life, to change my life.
God’s greatest miracle is that of creating new life in a withered heart. Will we settle for a hollow religion characterized by superficial morality? Will we attempt to feed ourselves on the lifeless dust on the vineyard floor or will we choose the richest Source for nourishment, abiding in the life giving Vine, where Christ can renew us, and change us, and produce from within us the life only He can, the new life He came to give us.
Then, and only then, will our behaviour reflect what we believe.