Along with the fantasy/reality issue, Mike Erre’s book raised the question of what it means to be a Christian man. Specifically as we think about what we see in the Scriptures, things like this come out:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
This is a great list, but the list applies as well to Mr. Rogers as it does to Jesus Christ.
So what gives? Did Paul err in giving us an incomplete list?
I don’t think so. You may have noticed that verse 22 begins with “But” — But what? Like the rest of the Bible, verse 22 isn’t a systematic theology; rather, its function is to show the contrast vs the “works of the flesh” (verse 19). Additional insights come if we look around that passage a little more. Verses 13-15 warn against selfishness and malice; verses 16-17 urge us to live by the Spirit, as opposed to the flesh (which the NIV renders “sinful nature”). Again, verses 25-26 urge us to walk with the Spirit and avoid selfishness and malice. So verses 22-23 are part of the overall argument: rather than idolatry, hatred, fits of rage, etc., better to have joy, patience, self-control and the like.
So if that’s not the complete list, what are some other things we would expect to see in someone following the Lord Jesus? I remembered another list:
Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.from 1 Timothy 6:10-12
Like the list in Galatians, this isn’t just a list; it’s a list against something — in this case greed, as the Galatians list was against selfishness, hatred, greed, etc. And immediately after the list is an exhortation to fight–which, come to think of it, is something Fred Rogers actually did, though it wasn’t always visible on his show.
What’s my point? Just this: though I’m a fan of Scripture memory, we need to take the entire Bible in, not just favorite verses. This is as much of a problem if we only memorize Galatians 5:22-23 as if we only memorize Psalm 139:22.
And also that I want to read more of Mike Erre’s book.