“Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit three in one……”, the beautiful hymn is echoing through my mind and heart as I find myself meditating again on God’s creation – the wisdom, variety, ingenuity etc. “You were right to remember that you are part of My creation, made in My image – you are right to remember that I am busy moulding you – Creator, Potter, yet Father of all love – Now I am working in your life so that you may reflect me more and more – and be a witness to me.”
I see a picture in my mind’s eye of me, like a plant, a rose and God’s fruit coming out of me like a bud, a beautiful multicoloured bud. Then I remember Jesus’ words in John ch 15, speaking of a vine – I need to remain in the vine to produce the fruit – the more I draw of the sap of the Spirit, the more I will produce luscious, golden, swollen, grapes, sweet to taste, beautiful to look at the fragrance of joy, of purpose, of obedience and of trust. But then comes the warning; beware of rotten berries in the bunch, which will spread to the rest – pride, selfishness, impatience, frustration, lack of trust, lack of love, deceit, slander, hypocrisy. They will spoil the whole bunch.
I take up my reading in 1 Peter 3:8-12. His general theme is still submission and interpersonal relationships but now he has moved on to the wider relationships of the members of God’s church. Strong words in vv 8 and 9 of mutual love featuring a desire to be sympathetic and loving, showing compassion to each other, all with an attitude of humility, regarding others as better than ourselves.(cf Philippians ch 2)
Then follows a quotation from psalm 34 with the emphasis on the words “tongue, lips and speech”, which remind me again how important the fruit of our lips is. Dr Phil often used to say “you can’t undo stupid”. Well you can’t unsay words that reflect evil, deceit and lack of love and sympathy. Then comes the surprise, “God’s ears are attentive to the righteous in prayer” vs 12. OK… second time Peter has mentioned how important our holiness is in terms of God listening to our prayers. The previous time was in vs 7 where he speaks of a husband’s prayers being hindered because of a wrong attitude towards his wife.
Then there’s the word “blessing” in vs 9. With the right attitude towards others, Peter says we will “inherit a blessing”. I take that to mean that the one who walks like this will benefit from it by being in harmony with God. So, he/she will have that and the promise that God will hear his prayers, I presume as part of it. So there is a a warning which goes back to vs 7. If our attitude is not right towards others, especially brothers and sisters in the church we will NOT experience harmony and He will NOT be attentive to our prayers.
So as I consider all this, I come back to my initial meditation. What is Jesus saying to me today? Well, it is clear how important interpersonal relationships are. The harmony within the church and love shown to each other is the best witness there can be. Yet from a personal point of view He seems to be saying that this harmony is part of the fruit of the Spirit He was showing me, which cannot be produced in any other way than being “in the Vine and drawing the supernatural sap of the Spirit”. More than that, much as it is a huge benefit to be under God’s blessing, our real witness is when we demonstrate this by being a blessing to others. So that is my challenge: To see that in each and every interpersonal relationship I have, I must be demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, if I am to be a witness. Even in the quiet of the inner room where it is only myself and a beloved wife who is struggling with dementia. Or my interaction with the nurses and helpers who I come into contact with daily.
“Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one”!