Chaos. Confusion. Anger. Bitterness. Division. We’re experiencing some truly painful paradigms in the modern era.
These emotions and realities are, of course, nothing new and have ebbed and flowed in their intensity and cultural presence throughout human history. Meanwhile, the solutions have actually remained entirely constant.
The Bible is filled with transformative information that, when properly applied to individuals’ lives, changes not only hearts, but also collective societies, as the scriptures serve as an essential guiding light.
Sadly, too many of us refuse to even turn the flashlight on, and even when we do, the resulting radiance is sometimes too dim to properly guide our paths. The reality is simple: Jesus came, died for our sins and changed human history.
Accepting this reality and living a life transformed by Christ’s sacrifice and by the Bible’s guidance is key. Of course, not everyone embraces these sentiments, and that’s their right.
But considering where we are right now, it’s essential that everyone — theist and atheist, alike — be willing to at least pay attention to two simple New Testament verses: Galatians 5:22-23, which read: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
The “fruit of the spirit” can provide a path forward, one that would not only heal our personal relationships, but would also help heal our land. How in the world would we go wrong with more “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?”
The irony is that these words, translated into action, could and should be supported and touted by atheists and Christians, alike. It’s obvious that Christians believe these sentiments are indicative of a person’s spiritual standing while being guided by the holy spirit. It’s also more than obvious that, in almost every way, modern culture is hostile toward or at least works against these values.
Our “all about me” society lacks kindness, social media is filled with hate, faith has too often been denigrated or ignored and self-control has been, in many ways, treated like a useless relic that belongs on a dusty shelf.
Human beings rule their own destiny and universal truth, at least culturally speaking, has become second fiddle.
We’re in a precarious and troubling place, yet, at the same time, the answers are right before us. While I’d advocate that individual souls and humanity as a whole will eternally benefit from more people embracing the Christian faith, I’d also argue that — at the least — every man, woman and child should be pondering and embracing the sentiments embedded in Galatians 5:22-23.
After all, atheists and non-Christians should have no problem advocating for joy, peace, love, self-control and kindness. And Christians, of course, should be leading the charge in morphing these words into transformative action.
The irony is that these simple words, which express what it truly means to live by the gospel, also encompass all that’s missing in our society and culture. If all of us take a moment to ponder each attribute and emotion and to integrate them more deeply into our lives, we’ll have more productive discussions, debates and interactions.
Perhaps more importantly: we’ll have a more functional society. I fail daily to live out some of these “fruits,” but I’m making a pledge to try and improve. Will you join me? Let’s be better.