As I spend my afternoons and evenings shuttling my children between various activities, obligations, and appointments, I observe bumper stickers and different license plates. The other day, I pulled up behind a Massachusetts plate—one I often don’t see here in western Pennsylvania. I took note of its tagline: “The Spirit of America.”
I understand how Massachusetts can claim this phrase. Its rich history touts the pilgrims and Paul Revere’s ride during the American Revolution; it’s also where the typewriter, the game of basketball, and chocolate chip cookies were invented. (Thank you to my son’s fourth-grade state research project last spring for the added trivia.)
But all of this brought me into a deeper thought process. For those of us who claim to be Christians, can we truthfully wear “The Spirit of Christ” tag? It’s a humbling challenge. In Galatians 5:22–23, Paul gives us nine characteristics that flow out of a believer living in accord with the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Quite frankly, I don’t always exhibit these qualities because I’m a sinner. Yet, it is possible because the Holy Spirit’s indwelling produces these virtues in a Christian’s life. And when I feel guilty in instances where one (or more) of those attributes is clearly lacking in my life, I’m reminded of Psalm 34:4–5: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Have you met a radiant person? I have. Several, actually. They attend my church. They are in my family. They serve those less fortunate, giving of their time and resources when our culture screams greed and selfishness.
When the Holy Spirit produces fruit in us, we radiate. When we seek the Lord, we are radiant—this radiance is the Spirit of Christ. And it is meant to be seen by others.
I once heard someone say there are two things you cannot do in heaven. The first is you cannot sin. (Hallelujah!) The second is evangelize. The life we live here on earth is an opportunity to impact others. So, first, turn to Christ and find all that you need to shine for Him, then turn toward others and allow His essence to radiate through you.
Be sure your actions also represent the Spirit of Christ. In doing so, the world may find the freedom and love He graciously offers to all who abide in Him.