This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)
When I was around 8, my 15-year-old uncle went around singing the lyrics to a song he really liked. I can still remember walking on the sidewalks of the open-air elementary school near my grandparents’ house that summer, feeling the dry, West Texas wind tickle across the back of my neck as my uncle belted out:
Only the good die young, bum, bum, bum. Yeah, only the good die yo-o-o-ung.
Being 8 and a hypochondriac, I took the lyrics at their literal level, and I wondered why my uncle would like a song that seemed to say that if I were good, I would certainly ensure my premature demise. I found the familiar swings on the playground and concentrated on the clear, blue sky, trying hard to forget about the tune floating somewhere in the air above us.
Only years later, hearing that song again, did it dawn on me that what the lyrics really meant was that being good was somehow like a living death. This concept of goodness is typical of a world view governed by the ruler of the dark. But God is the ruler of the Light, and everything about a life following the Light is far from the world’s concept of a living death.
Everything about the Christian life involves action. James reminds us that “. . . faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:17). If you truly believe in Christ as your Savior, then your walk by faith is not just a statement of feeling but a way of being. You do things for others because of what Christ did for you.
Sometimes, your greatest action as a Christian is to keep yourself from acting. In Charles Martin’s book, Wrapped in Rain, one of the main characters symbolizes this kind of Christianity. Rather than taking the revenge that is human nature to desire, Miss Ella Rain instead chooses to hold onto the Light that is the Holy Spirit in us. She warns one of her charges:
“”Tucker, I want to tell you a secret.” Miss Ella curled my hand into a fist and showed it to me.”
“”Life is a battle, but you can’t fight it with your fists. You got to fight it with your heart.””
A heart actively in the heart of Christ truly practices forgiving what seems unforgivable, giving when your first instinct is to take, and using the gifts of the Spirit to show others the truth about our loving God.
When we make Christianity a verb in our lives, surely Christ will ensure that our efforts bear fruit for His Kingdom. A life lived in the Light of Christ is so active, how could anyone really think that the “good die young?”
I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)