-Katie Van Pelt
The relationship I have with my sister has changed dramatically over the years. Everyone who knows me knows that I have a little sister and that she is also my best friend. The closer we have gotten, the more I have changed because of her. For example, my sister loves chocolate chip cookies more than most things in the world and is confident that she knows how to make and pick out the best ones. Because of this I now look at chocolate chip cookies differently. I know what makes her laugh, and have found that her humor has become my humor. I know her nightly routine and have noticed that mine now looks pretty similar. I know and share a lot of her mannerisms - some people can’t tell us apart over the phone because we even talk the same.
This is just a small example of how our relationships can shape us to look like the person we are in the relationship with.
If I can be shaped through an earthly relationship with my sister, how much more will a relationship with my heavenly father shape me? We will be changed even more as we embrace our identity with Jesus. Our habits, what our heart longs for, how we spend our money - will start to look different when we develop a relationship with God. We will begin to produce fruit. Fruit just means that we begin to think like Jesus and act like Jesus. This happens when we embrace knowing who we are in Jesus Christ.
Embrace the New Life
We see in scripture that we are made new when we belong to Christ. The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the believers in Ephesus, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life … and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” When we recognize that we are a new creation made for a new purpose, we will embrace the new life that is in store for us.
Paul gives us instructions on how to have a successful and fruit bearing life in Christ. He explains how in Christ we can pursue a mature and healthy relationship with the Father. He also explains how in Christ we have the ability to look more like Christ (another way of saying our lives will bear fruit). But Paul makes it clear, It is only when we have a right understanding of our new identity in Christ that we will then produce this fruit. When we embrace this new life with Christ and understand the potential of the relationship waiting for us, the more we will begin to think like Jesus and act like Jesus.
Think like Jesus
In order to bear fruit in our lives for Christ we must first evaluate what we are thinking about throughout the day. It will be hard if we are trying to grow in Christlikeness when we are thinking about everything besides Christ.
For example, if we spend our time thinking about tik tok then we will begin to only see through the lens of “how could I make that into a tik tok?” If all we do is think about fantasy football, you could find yourself spending hours and hours thinking through trades and games that don’t have a huge impact in your actual life.
What captivates your thoughts the most throughout the day?
Is it God’s word?
Is it this pandemic?
It is school?
Is it media?
In our world right now it is easy for us to think about a lot of things that will distract us from God. But what we think the most about reflects the way we live our lives.
The amazing part about this is because of our new life in Christ we are enabled to think like Him, he helps us to do this! And when we think like him we start to see the world like him. (Rom 12:2)
Paul says that “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit”. In college I started to set my mind on things of the spirit by beginning to memorize scripture. This helped me take my eyes off of myself and the world and instead think about God’s word, who God is, and who God says I am.
God even uses Paul to tell us exactly what we should be thinking about.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”. Philippians 4:8
Act like Jesus
When I look at an apple tree I know it’s an apple tree because of its fruit. An apple tree wouldn’t ever produce oranges, it is meant to produce apples. The fruit that is produced when we are abiding in God is godly character. It is what we are meant to produce. Again, we are called to live like Jesus lived and just like it’s easy to point out an apple tree because of what it produces, the same goes for someone who is pursuing a genuine relationship with Christ.
The fruit of us abiding in Christ is Christlikeness.
Acting like Jesus means you have two actions:
Put to death your old self
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off you old self with it’s practices”. Colossians 3:8-9
Put on your new self
“clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another…. And over all these virtues put on love.” Colossians 3:12-14
These are some of our apples. These are the fruits (the results) in our lives that will be produced when we abide in Him. (John 15:5-7)
The people in my life noticed that there was something different about me when I started to follow Jesus. It’s because I was different. I started to hate the things I used to love and love the things I used to hate. It wasn’t a smooth transition and I am still actively trying to live by putting off my old self and putting on Christlikeness. It’s a daily endeavor, but it’s so incredibly worth it!
We can have a successful and fruit bearing life in Christ if we are willing to pursue it. Let’s put in the effort to pull the sin out of our lives and plant seeds of righteousness and good works. Let’s choose to think of things that are worthy of God and live in light of who God is. Let’s pursue a relationship with God that is so deep that our lives will begin to look like Jesus’ life because that is what we were created for.
As we continue studying God’s word this week I want to challenge all of us to remember our identity in Christ and to pursue the fruitful life that is a result of following Him.
Take a second a consider these two questions:
List out the top 5 things you think of most throughout the day. Do you like the list? Why or why not?
Imagine a Netflix documentary crew filmed your last 24hrs. What “fruit” would be evident?