Over the last few posts, we have discussed our identity as children of God, loved by God, and sent by God. These concepts are foundational to understanding who we are and how we’re connected to a kingdom mission.
Like many kids, my childhood was marked by a certain family identity. My dad was in the Army, which meant we were a military family. But that identity wasn’t just an internal understanding, it produced noticeable, external traits. Namely, we moved a lot.
Identity isn’t just an internalized or personalized notion. It marks us with qualities that distinguish us from others. In scripture, this idea is often connected to the principle of bearing fruit. Where—or to whom– we are rooted determines the type of fruit we produce. In John 15, which describes fruitful branches extended from the vine of Christ, Jesus says,
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit- fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you (John 15:16 NIV).
In the life of a believer, identifying as a beloved and sent child of God should naturally translate to works that reflect the character of our Father. My friend Al Engler says there is expected fruit of the gospel – what we expect disciples to be and do.
The book of 1 Peter describes the fruit of Christ followers as those who “do good.” The word ‘good’ appears 17 times in 1 Peter.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12 NIV84)
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:15-16)
While ‘doing good’ is not the means of our salvation, it is the substance of fruitful lives that are proof that God has planted His redemptive seed in us! In other words, it is not enough for disciples of Jesus to be marked only by their spiritual disciplines and private devotion to Christ. More than those, followers of Christ will be known for actively influencing and impacting the world for good.
Image bearers of Christ will be moved and marked by causes that move the heart of God. With Him, we stand for social justice, are passionate about issues of human trafficking, the dignity of human life , racial inequality, and poverty. God’s heart is moved deeply for the dignity and value of every person.
Not every believer needs to be invested in every cause, but as redeemed ones, we will ‘do good,’ and our lives will be marked as ones who “act justly… love mercy… and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV). Just as we are uniquely being recreated in the image of Christ, we are uniquely fitted into the mission of God—’doing good’ in the ways God personally convicts and compels us.
Pause for a moment and consider: what current issue is the compassion of Christ compelling me to do good? What fruit is my life bearing that reflects my rootedness to Christ?