The apostle Paul once defined the fruit of the holy spirit as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In his noble wisdom, Paul was attempting to provide believers a set of principles to follow in life which would align our conduct and behavior to that which is desired by God. Out of all the scriptures in the bible and all of the principles decreed, there are none more direct, unambiguous or well-defined as these nine attributes. Through his simplicity, Paul essentially made it impossible for anyone to debate, pounder or express equivocation about what is expected of believers. Paul, based on the teachings of Jesus, felt that it wasn’t enough for Christians to merely proclaim their faith, but to go a step further and put their faith into action.
James 2:14 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works
As someone who believes in the teachers of Jesus Christ, I feel it’s essential that my politics match my faith! That the “works or actions” I support or engage in reflect the nine attributes that Paul declared as being the fruit of the holy spirit. Therefore, when directed to love, I find it hard to then support someone who encourages hate and promotes division. I find it hard to support policies which cut programs for needy children while at the same time giving tax breaks to the wealthy. When directed to embody goodness, I find it hard to support a man who publicly admits to sexually assaulting women or a man who finds it hard to be truthful or honest.
Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
In the same way, I find it hard to support people who find it easy to engage in perpetual war and conflict. For eight years President Obama was criticized and maligned by Republicans who felt that he was weak on national defense and too willing to engage in diplomacy. These were the same Republicans who, years earlier, supported the unnecessary war in Iraq which led to staggering loses of life. It’s clear to me that when possible, our mandate as believers is to maintain peace and find ways to limit conflicts, and not to escalate them. So in my opinion our directive as believers is clear and easy to understand, which is why I find it so baffling that the attributes I find to be so well-defined to others are ambiguous and open to interpretation. After all, this is the only way a professed Christian could willfully support a party and candidate which represents the antitheses of the teachings of Jesus.
I believe as Christian, we have an obligation to live up to the principles which the Apostle Paul so brilliantly decreed. We have a duty to stand for righteous, truth and social justice. And we are also compelled to defend the poor, care for the widow and be our brother’s keeper. But in too many cases people of faith have put their convictions to the side and aligned themselves with corrupt and immoral forces. It’s time for a change. As progressive believers, we need to fight to reclaim the mantel of true moral authority which has been hijacked over the years by hypocritical Christian conservative, and reestablish the attributes of Paul as our guiding principles to new social gospel.
Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.