Most times it is hard to tell who the Christian is in the crowd. We may have a different vocabulary and we may have a few different activities but much of our thinking remains the same. We have gotten so use to it we don't even see it. Unfortunately in the Church today, God no more leads us than he does a person who doesn't call on the name of Jesus.
Honestly, consider your day for a moment. Do you feel directed by the Spirit or are you doing what you want to do? Consider your life goals. Are they your goals or the direction the Spirit is moving you in? We have this insane notion that whatever we think must be from God. We don't even know the difference any more between our own thinking and the conviction of the Spirit. There is a whole generation being lost to the Spirit.
Again and again we hear it and read it, people making excuses for themselves, "No one is perfect". Our failure is only due to one thing because God overcame everything else. That one thing is simply our decision not to choose Jesus in every situation in our life. We fail when we choose to do what we want instead of what the Spirit is directing us to do. In many ways, we still think we are responsible for our own salvation.
Yesterday we considered a list of things that warn us when our relationship with Jesus is off. Today I want us to consider the good signs that we have a healthy relationship. I word it this way specifically because many of us are trying to live this list externally. We actually think we have the ability to live this holy life but our part is nothing more than surrender. Surrender to God's power and will in us. We are to surrender, lay down our will and desire and allow the Spirit to change us.
If we are getting up in the morning and saying to ourselves, "Today I am going to be more loving", we will fail. But if we get up in the morning and say, "To you Jesus I surrender this day and I am determined to follow the Spirit all day long", you will find yourself being more loving. Most of us do not understand the difference.
Here is the list of the signs of a healthy relationship with Jesus:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
For those who are confused by the wording "clothe yourselves", "put on", I remind you how Paul said we are able to live these things:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (vv. 1-2)
Again I tell you, these are not "to do" lists but rather signs that tell us our relationship with Jesus is healthy. When we have a growing and vibrant relationship with the King, serving him, learning from him, submitted to his will, we will discover ourselves clothed in compassion. Kindness, humility, gentleness and patience will be evident to everyone as the character of Jesus shines through. We will understand the need to bear with those who are not as mature and forgiveness will be the most natural thing. And we will have a greater revelation of love, deepening every day.
These are all things that we fail at because we are the ones trying to do it instead of allowing the Spirit to do it through us. The only thing we need to put effort into is our relationship with Jesus. As others have said, you can't spend two hours in prayer with Jesus without being changed. You can't follow the direction of the Spirit and remain as you were. You can't have a deep fellowship with God and still decide your own course. We can't call on the name of Jesus and live like our neighbour. There is a difference when we learn to walk with the Spirit who lives in us.
Stop doing and start being.