“I need to look at their fruit rather than at my preconceptions of what’s normal.” Ouch… I’m right there with you. My discipline is lacking in this area yet my zeal seems to be rich. It’s boggling that those don’t always converge. I have found myself drifting towards more of being a “reasoning” and talking with God kind of guy, whereas my disciplines of diving in the Word aren’t balanced.
A few days ago, I met a pastor of a church of 20,000 or so people in Delhi India. His congregats meet in home churches – 500 of them.
Things started taking off about 15 years ago when a boy with a bad skin condition asked for prayer. The next day he was healed. Word spread and the church began to grow at an exponential rate.
The pastor said, "It's not the miracles that attract the people; it's the changed lives."
I asked him how he disciples his leaders.
"They have to pray and read the Bible at least an hour and a half a day. We ask them to read 13 chapters of the Bible each day. We live in a society that worships many different gods. We have to immerse ourselves in God's thoughts to resist the enemy."
I thought, "Isn't that a little extreme?"
And then I realized, "I need to look at their fruit rather than at my preconceptions of what's normal."
If the fruit of such spiritual discipline is a church that is growing by leaps and bounds with people getting healed and set free from the things that enslave them, shouldn't I look at that?
Reflecting on my practice of Bible reading, I realized that I've gone soft. I tend to not read broadly and sometimes not at all. I need to look at those aspects of my faith that have been adversely impacted by culture and make adjustments from time to time.
How about you? How has culture impacted your faith? What changes do you want to make that might look counter-culture?
Good word Seth. Sometimes I spend more time perusing blog feeds than reading my Bible.
While it’s better to perform spiritual disciplines from a love for Jesus rather than from obligation, sometimes our hearts don’t get with the program until our wills commit to action.
This is a really, really great thought. Recently, having been in South Sudan and seeing people fast without food and water for days at a time as a regular spiritual discipline, or seeing all night prayer vigils as a constant thing, I began to wonder if it was getting a little legalistic with the timing of it.
But then, people are coming to God all the time. A baby with a life-threatening condition got healed at the church while I was there. Demons get cast out every day. People have dreams that often come true. When most of them can’t read the Bible for themselves because of illiteracy, the fervor with which they reach out to God in the ways that they know how is incredible… And the fruit of that is all over the place.
I think with things like the World Race, or Bethel Church in Redding, a lot of people think that the way we relate to, understand, explain, or experience God might be weird or, to some people, seem crazy. But like you said, you can’t deny the fruit. And often lately, when I’m challenged with a new way of viewing God, I directly look at the fruit of a person even if I don’t immediately agree with what they say or how they relate God. And when I see the supernatural, or view the love that changes others, I come to understand that God’s power is in that fruit, and I should listen to them. And often, I find myself embracing something new that I never would have before… And it brings me closer and deeper in God.
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