This fall I’ve been attending a small group that has been discussing principles gleaned from the movie, Overcomer. There has been so much great conversation there. The one main theme I’ve come away with is when it comes to our identity, if we know Jesus, it has to be rooted in Him. And everyone will know us by our love.
Or lack of.
Years ago I was asked to give an opinion on a conflict that was sadly playing out on social media. Basically I was questioned which side did I believe. On one hand there was someone in a leadership position who grew up in the church. On the other, there was a broken person who was far from making perfect choices, but man, the worship was real.
I answered that I can’t tell them what to think, but my measuring stick was fruit. I said, “Look for the fruit.” For me, an abundant crop for the cause of Christ came from an unexpected place—the wounded warrior who kept their focus on Him and making sure He got the glory.
As I type, my Facebook feed is full of comments on Kanye West’s new album and very public proclamation that he is born again and that Jesus is his Savior. There are two camps I’m seeing: those rejoicing, and those warning the first camp to beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I don’t know where Kanye’s heart is, but I can say this: no one with a false agenda for the advancement of God’s Kingdom through Jesus would make Jesus the focus. In any cult or false testimony, whether immediate or in time, the real worship is on man and self. To hear that Kanye is proclaiming Jesus and that his mission is to point the world to HIM and not him, I gotta admit, I’m rooting for him.
No matter where he stands, the heat on him will be intense. His circle and fanbase have followed him for his brand of showcasing himself. And Christians? I fear a portion of those identifying as Christ followers will be criticizing his every move.
I’ve seen it time and time again. The modern Pharisees come in their perfect suits, perfect hair, and perfect attendance. But anything that looks less than perfect in the Body of Christ, they are rankled.
As the saying goes, just because you go to McDonald’s, it doesn’t make you a hamburger. Just because you go to church, it doesn’t make you a Christian.
You—and I—we will be known by our love and fruit.—Julie Arduini
I’ve watched hungry hearts for Christ run into the world’s heartbreak because they came across those focused on religion point out their jeans while singing on the worship team. For awhile, those that sat with me joked it was a “tattoo safe pew” because they had been judged in other seats.
How dare we? Do we not remember Jesus wore a robe and sandals? That one of the most faithful messengers was a man who wore smelly clothes made out of camel hair and ate locusts and honey?
I’m far from an expert in anything Biblical or Christ-like. My faith is so simple and basic because I am not a complex thinker. I’m not that smart. But, I believe if we call ourselves followers of Christ, we need to be known by our love and our fruit.
God’s Word does not change. However, I believe the coming days are going to show a Holy Spirit infused movement where the imperfect, broken, smelly, weird, and downright shocking are going to rise up and proclaim their relationship with Christ. We’ve got to be ready to open our arms to an addict coming off a high walking into our church and sitting in “our” seat. There will be those in perfect suits walking to the altar because they are facing legal proceedings. So many things we can’t even predict will play out before us.
I told my friend who asked about the conflict that we better not be afraid to get close to those with a “Mess-timony.” They will have a witness, but it will make our jaws drop and our eyebrows raise.
The measuring stick we’re using on Kanye and Bieber, I have to use it on me. You need to do the same. How do people perceive you? They are looking to see how you love. They are looking for your fruit in how you treat others, serve, forgive.
Let’s rally around these new Christians, celebrity and not, and not spend our time waiting for them to fall, but pray they are safe, mentored, and able to go the distance to hear, as we all desire at the end of our time on earth, “Well done, faithful servant.”
My Christmas novella, Restoring Christmas, is available for Kindle pre-order. First featured in the 2018 boxed set A Christmas to Remember, Restoring Christmas features a mansion tourist attraction, two grieving family members, a special education teacher, and his class. Can Kevin and his students help Holly restore the Christmas Mansion before she leaves town? Again?
Print version coming soon.