Romans 8:29; Galatians 5:22–25; Matthew 16:24–26; John 5:3–6; Mark 10:17–22
Of the four big questions, “Where are you going?” is the easiest because the answer has been given to us. The Christian spiritual journey has Christlikeness as its destination. Romans 8:29 says that the outcome God has always had in mind for us is to be like Jesus. What does that look like? Galatians 5:22–23 tells us that over time we will consistently become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient and long-suffering, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. These things are called “fruit of the Spirit,” which means they naturally blossom in our lives when we are moving forward with the Holy Spirit toward Christlikeness. If we do not see a measure of increase in at least some of these fruits, then we are probably stuck in our spiritual journey or traveling to somewhere other than Christlikeness.
Notice that these indicators of forward movement toward Christlikeness are not called “fruit of (fill in your name)” nor “fruit of my church/pastor.” Trying to manage our behaviors in order to be more loving, kind, patient, et cetera, is exhausting. And while being influenced by the lives of mature Christians is helpful, relying on another human being to produce fruit in our lives is a dead end. Only God’s work in us through the Holy Spirit can consistently and successfully cultivate these Christlike character traits in our lives. The Holy Spirit leads, but we must cooperate, and that’s where our third big question comes into play: Do I want to go to Christlikeness?
This might seem like a silly question, but no sillier than Jesus asking a paralytic, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6). People generally give three answers to this question:
Yes. If this is your answer you are ready to move forward.
No. An answer not reserved for nonbelievers. Perhaps you, like many in the church, consider Christlikeness to be extreme, fanatical, and reserved for clergy and super-Jesus-freaks.
I wish I was Christlike. The more common answer among believers is the third answer. But there is a huge difference between wanting something and wishing it were so. If we wish to be Christlike, we’re asking God to wave a wand and make it so without our effort and hopefully without too much disruption to our lives.
A wished-for journey toward Christlikeness stops when things get hard or uncomfortable. The rich young ruler in Mark 10 wished for heaven, but didn’t want it badly enough to cut loose the idol that had his heart. I had personally lived many years wishing for Christlikeness without really wanting to go badly enough to do what was necessary: to deny my own life and take up my cross daily.
Discuss the following questions with your group: (1) Have you seen growth in any aspect of the fruit of the Spirit in the last year? Explain. (2) Have you left something behind in the last three to five years to follow Jesus more fully? (3) Are you willing to give something up now to move forward?
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