Our culture is all about getting things done. You can see it all through society. We set sales and profit goals, we keep score in athletic contests, we want lots of people following us on social media. The bottom line is what matters.
This drive to be the “best” is even visible in the church. There are posts listing the top 50 megachurches in the US, and clicking on that article proves we actually do want to know who’s at the top. Those kinds of numbers and results draw us in because it is easier to define success with something so quantifiable.
But Jesus points us in a different direction. The push to get ahead was alive and well in his time, too, and there was even good reason for it. The Jewish people believed that if you were living righteously, God would bless you. That blessing, then, would demonstrate to others how righteously you were living. For many of us, our actions might show that we still believe that today.
So what was Jesus’ push back? He said that in the Kingdom the last would be first. The weak would lead the strong, the poor would be rich. Jesus demonstrated this kind of living, and put an exclamation point on it by dying to win the spiritual battle with the enemy. Check out the book, “Upside Down Kingdom” by Donald Kraybill for more on this. (You can find it on Amazon here.)
Our focus should be on who we are in Christ, not what we do for him. Our actions are important, yes; but they should flow out of who we are, not define us. Regardless of “winning” or “losing,” God’s concern is how we lived along the way.
Jesus pointed at the Pharisees, those who focused on doing everything exactly right and were culturally considering the most righteous, and called them “white-washed tombs.” Pretty on the outside… nothing but death on the inside.
How do we “be” the Kingdom and avoid that description? Allow your focus to be on these things:
Love… Joy… Peace… Patience… Kindness… Goodness… Faithfulness… Gentleness… Self-Control…
As we follow Jesus into the “fruit of the Spirit,” results will take care of themselves.
Be the fruit!