Fruits of Power?

The fruits of the Spirit (of God) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

What is truth? This is not a question that I’m even going to attempt to answer here, nor is it one that I have confidence my philosophical chops could answer even if I wanted to. But I find that so many Christians are interested in proclaiming the truth, in teaching the truth, and propagating the truth. (yes, I realize I’ve just given three examples all saying the same thing…oops) What I’m more concerned with, or rather what I’m finding incredibly intriguing right now (thanks to my wife’s keen observation) is the methods or moods within which the ‘truth’  is shared or understood. There seems to consistently be a sense of authority, power, and strength associated with it. (this would be in contrast to a humble, broken, and gentle approach) I should mention here that I am not in any way condemning these more dominant characteristics in any way whatsoever. They are potentially deeply spiritual characteristics. The Bible, in fact, speaks wonderfully of those who are gifted in speaking with power–speaking powerful words into peoples lives; the Bible also welcomes the gifts of teaching–leading people’s thoughts with authority and instruction. Etc. etc…. What I’m fascinated by, though, is the set of things that are included when one of Bible’s authors speaks of the fruits that emerge from the actual Spirit of God.

The fruits of the Spirit (of God) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Love, joy, patience, gentleness, peace, kindness, goodness, self-control, and faithfulness. None of these are characteristics normally associated with any sort of power, dominance, or authority. Those are incredibly powerful qualities, but qualities that also demand that one gives up power and control. They don’t wield power in the way that we normally speak of or understand power. It takes great power to turn the other cheek–not power how we normally think of it…but it is an act of power. It takes great power love unconditionally–but it looks more like Mother Teresa than it does a US  President.

Again, I am not saying that those who see themselves as teachers or leaders, those with more dominant voices or a more dominant presence, or those who have an ability to speak boldly into peoples lives are wrong or are not congruent with the activity of the transforming movement of the Spirit of God.


Instead I think we are being invited into a backwards and radical understanding of what it means to be filled with God-ness. Power and control are not the defining characteristics of God or of those who are filled with his presence. Nope. Instead they are things like patience. Kindness. Love. Gentleness. When one is in pursuit of God, when one is filled with his Spirit in greater and greater measure, that person will begin to be a more self-controlled person. That person will love more sacrificially. That person will find more joy regardless of life’s bumps and bruises.

The truth is, as I see it, that any word we speak into any life, with any sense of authority, from any pulpit or pew must be marked in some overwhelming way by the defining markers of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because (and here’s where it gets real good) “…against such thing there is no law.”


No laws. Nowhere. Nobody. Nothing can take those things away from you. Though the whole of life attempts to steal them away they are yours to keep when as they exude from the Spirit of God who has asked to live and move inside of you.

Tattling in the Bible?

I’m sorry, but I’m just not a good enough Christian to be into this. There’s just something offensive to me when we work so hard to make sure that our kids understand their own depravity. I also find it offensive when the greatest story ever told is used instead as some kind of controllable tool to manipulate others behavior.

Don’t get me wrong I’m sure that the people who put this together (in addition to those who use this product) are good people with good intentions. We just see things very differently. They would be equally grossed out by many of my views on theology and childrearing and I’m comfortable to just ‘agree to disagree’.

And don’t get me wrong, using the aforementioned child raising tactics probably means that their children are more ‘appropriately’ behaved than mine–but isn’t it time that we stop defining “well behaved” as “you operate according to my rules when I want you to or else…” and instead think in terms of children learning to make good choices not out of fear of punishment (getting hit over the head with a Bible is definitely punishment) but out of experiences that validate the worth of a health and good choice? If a child makes a bad choice he shouldn’t fear getting lectured to death but should instead experience the consequence that fits that unhealthy decision.

And regardless of parenting preferences, do I really want my children growing up understanding the Bible as a tool used to make them feel bad? Because I should clarify that this blog isn’t (shouldn’t be) about parenting styles or preference in discipline, etc.. No, to me the greater offense is the way in which people are invited to wield the Bible. The Bible is the greatest love story ever told, it is a narrative that gives us a glimpse into God’s overtures of love to his created humanity! Wouldn’t you much rather your children understand the Bible as a grand love story than a rule book? Which one fits better with the life and words of Jesus? And isn’t the point that we want our children to live like, with, and for Jesus? We want them to learn what it means to die to self, to love their neighbor, to know that they are completely loved, to know that they are created perfectly in the image of God, and to know that God does indeed desire them to live free of destructive things such as deceit and laziness (but its not because they’re doing it wrong but because God cares for them and wants them to live free!!!)

While I am intrigued to read the scriptures associated with “tattling” I don’t think I’ll be buying this Bible. I think its important for my children to interact with the story of the Bible–but not this way. I want them to see the life that oozes and drips from its pages, I want them to see the whole of Scripture through the lens of Jesus (’cause he is the perfect image of God himself and therefore the best paradigm we have of understanding God’s activity both past and present), I want them to see the Bible as more than a set of quotable verse to be used to prove your point, and I want them to understand that the Bible’s not about being right but about showing love.

Being right can sometimes be wrong.

Hollow versus Hallowed

Christians love to talk ABOUT Jesus. They generally love to talk Jesus TO people. When we want someone to be a Christian we suggest they read stories ABOUT Jesus.

What’s interesting to me as I’m reading some of both the early Jesus stories and the early story of the emergence of the church is that they’re not really talking about Jesus, they’re not really talking Jesus to people, and they don’t really invite people to simply read about him. Actually what I’m observing is that people were just sharing their stories. They were both telling people what they had literally experienced and observed and they were inviting people into the experience. Without the experiential piece there wasn’t much of anything to be told. Becoming a partner in the Jesus Way wasn’t just about knowing the right things as much as it was about entering into the story: experiencing something.

Yes talking ABOUT Jesus is important, but if there’s no actual experience, if none of our ‘about’ is connected to what we’ve seen, heard, and done then our ‘about’ is quite hollow. If all we’re inviting people to do is read ABOUT Jesus then we’re inviting them into a hollow experience. If, however, we’re inviting people into an actual moment, into a genuine encounter with what Jesus referred to as the Kingdom then I believe that a truly hallowed moment emerges. It’s all about entering into a story. So, yes, that includes getting to know the story more and more. But it must absolutely lead into and include participation in a transformational story…a hallowed experience.

Hollow versus hallowed.

Talking ABOUT Jesus is important…but anyone can do that…and who wants to be that average?