[notice] A fortnightly column by Anna Heydenrych: the ninth in a series of reflections on the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23)[/notice]Today, I attempt to bring you the final installment of my nine part series on the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I tread cautiously to try to pack into these few lines a justifiable reflection on what the bible refers to in Corinthians as ‘the greatest of these’, love.
I believe that Jesus, the man who walked this earth, epitomized love. It is what drew people to Him and it is what He imparted to His disciples so that they were able to continue His ministry after He was gone. It is what continues to draw people in from the darkness all over the world today. In some places in the world, the choice to follow Christ comes with life-threatening consequences – but there is something stronger than the fear of death – love.
It casts out all fear, it is patient and kind, it fulfills the law, it is humble and gentle, it is from God. Jesus taught us to bestow it on our enemies, to give it to God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He displayed it on the cross with the ultimate sacrifice.
So how do we bear this fruit as Christ calls us to? I think that if we could go back two thousand years to meet with Jesus in the flesh, we would come away with a good idea of how to display the fruit of love in our lives. But two thousand years on, we live in a world filled with distortions of and filtered down versions of love. We need to gain our understanding of what love is from our father God, through a personal relationship. We cannot begin to attempt to impart love on the world before we have encountered the love of the Father.
I feel that I learn more and more about love all the time, lessons that help to shape my understanding of the depths of love and how I can be a bringer of love to a broken world. I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with my first child. I love the baby growing inside me with such a force and I have not even met him. He has not done a thing to earn my love, and other than hoping that he will be healthy and filled with joy and follow in the ways of the Lord, I have no expectations for him. I love him no matter what, and I daily make choices where I put his needs over mine. This experience is teaching me more about love.
I do however realise that this is not the experience of every pregnant woman. Owing to brokenness in this world, there are many women who have never experienced true love in their own lives. Babies are aborted, dumped and abused. This breaks my heart, but let me be filled with enough love to realise that I am in the place that I am in life because I have been loved and pointed towards the God of love. Let me understand that I am blessed and have a responsibility to show love to this broken world. Love brings change, love brings healing.
Every one of us craves love. As Christians we have the real deal. If we can only live lives of righteousness, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, with love as the anchor of each fruit, surely the unloved and broken will come running to us to show them how to obtain what we have?