There is small comment made in Galatians that always makes me smile. Paul contrasts two lists. One in which the “works of the flesh are obvious” and the other concerning “the fruits of the Spirit”. At the end of that list comes the comment that “there is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5:19-23)
What a wonderful understatement! It serves to direct our attention towards “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It’s such a simple list, but a powerful reminder as to what really undergirds character as we seek to allow the Spirit to work in us as we follow Jesus.
A local church, an organisation, an enterprise and a ministry such as GMP can be described as having ‘character’. Appreciating how our character is shaped and how we all are distinctive in our work, outreach and treatment of people is evidence of the fruit listed by Paul being at work.
We all face uncertainties at the moment. Many of us have challenging decisions that need to be made, personally, and in our churches and organisations – GMP included. We have a grace-filled opportunity to approach this season with the fruit of the Spirit at work.
In Lent we journey with Jesus to the cross and are reminded of the way that Jesus approached this impending crisis. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to, “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a) It is striking that this Lenten invitation is to journey with Jesus in our view; to persevere and to anticipate joy (one of the fruits of the Spirit).
We all look ahead and wonder. GMP is looking ahead and exploring what it is that we are now being called towards. Yes, perseverance is needed – to not give up when times are difficult. However, it is not a grim experience of clenched teeth as we endure – it is a journey in which joy is anticipated and in which the fruits of the Spirt are present. Our journey changes, and we cannot give up. As we look to Jesus and as hope grows, our journey and the journeys of our partners change to a ‘Walk of Hope’.
John Gilmore, Executive Officer.