NEW

Hypocrisy of Authoritarian Bishops

The Hypocrisy of Authoritarian Bishops  Part 2 By the Revd Dr Lee Gatiss Sophistry I wonder if the bishops who wrote this report did so with a straight face? They tell us that church blessings are not pronouncements, and approval cannot be inferred from them. They...

South Sudan Primate Welcomes Church Leaders but Remains Firm on Biblical Marriage

South Sudan Primate Welcomes Church Leaders but Remains Firm on Biblical Marriage The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Revd Dr Iain Greenshields, visited South Sudan in the first weekend of February to participate in...

Welby Chooses Disestablishment Over Global Breakup

Welby Chooses Disestablishment over Global Breakup Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has indicated that he prizes the unity of the global Anglican Communion over the continued established status of the Church of England, in surprising comments that were reported...

Conservative Bishops Reaffirm Church’s Teaching on Marriage

Conservative Bishops Reaffirm Church's Teaching on Marriage Fourteen Bishops of the Church of England have published "a relatively short theological summary of the doctrine of marriage as the Church of England has received it, and how it relates particularly to...

Pilgrim’s Process: Trials & Challenges

Pilgrim’s Process By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon Trials and Challenges As we travel to our heavenly city we face trials and challenges that can feel like they are more than we will be able to bear. The sufferings of this present age are considerable. When we are alone...

New Bishop to the Archbishops Announced

New Bishop to the Archbishops Announced The Rt Revd David Urquhart has been announced as the new Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, succeeding Dr Emma Ineson who has been appointed Bishop of Kensington. In this role, he will work directly for both...

Proper Bishops, PLEASE by the Northern Churchman

Proper Bishops, Please by the Northern Churchman In their proposals on human sexuality, the College of Bishops have given the Church of England a managerial solution to theological and moral issues. They have sought a compromise detached from Scripture and doctrine,...

Archbishop Has Audience with Sandi

Archbishop has Audience with SandiWhat the Actress Said to the Bishop The Archbishop of Canterbury has had his promised 'coffee and chat' with TV personality and prominent lesbian campaigner Sandi Toksvig. This invitation by Lambeth Palace was issued in response to an...

Letter: Solemn Times

Letter Solemn Times   Dear Sir, It is always easier to provide negative feedback and to criticise, than to be positive. I therefore just wanted to say that I totally agree with the Editorial in your current issue (EC8122).  We are living in tremendously solemn...

Letter: Law & Politics

Letter Law & Politics Dear Sir, The historian Robert Conquest posited a law about politics, that the simplest way to explain the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies. Can this 'law' explain the...

Pilgrim’s Process: Growing Fruit

Pilgrim’s Process

By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon

Growing Fruit

As we travel towards the heavenly city, we expect and seek that the Spirit would change us – make us increasingly reflect the character and image of Christ. One of the Biblical pictures used to describe this is the Spirit growing fruit in us: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.’ (Gal. 5:22–23)

What are the implications for how change happens in our lives, from the fact that it is described as ‘fruit’ grown in us? Answering the question guards us against false expectations, superficial change and misleading promises.

First the image of fruit suggests that at a fundamental level the change in our lives is the work of the Spirit within us. We have a role to play, but when all is said and done, we give glory to God for his supernatural work in our lives.

Secondly, fruit grows slowly and at times imperceptibly. So we may not always be conscious of the extent of change in our character.

Thirdly, fruit does in time develop to a point where it is sweet and enjoyable to eat! So it is to be expected that the believer over time gets to enjoy the sweet pleasure of some aspects of Christ like character.

Fourthly, that the fruit is described as singular, means that the virtues listed are in reality aspects of one organic fruit. Growth is to be sought and desired in all areas of virtue. It is not like personality where we may well have leanings or tendencies to one or two aspects of a personality – God is concerned to develop our Christlikeness in all aspects of who we are.

More can be said, but one further implication of the fruit imagery is that we do support the growth of fruit by weeding, pruning and fertilising. We have a role to play as the Spirit grows his fruit. That the work is God’s does not mean we have no part to play – we can and should employ discipline, effort and self-reflection to create fertile soil for the Spirit’s fruit in us.

Our world is one that seeks and demands sudden and revolutionary change. That can happen in a pilgrim’s life – but the normal and more common work of the Spirit is growth that is secret, quiet, imperceptible – but real, substantive and satisfying all the same. May we seek the Spirit’s work in our lives. May he grow his fruit of Christ-like character.

The Revd Dr Peter Sanlon is the rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells.

Previous

Next