Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Potential and Evidence

One of the things I like about the area I live is that the city of Austin seems to be chuck full of idealistic visionaries. In this town, it seems like people have many big ideas, especially about technology and culture. Twitter was first introduced at a conference here 5 years ago. Gowalla also was started in Austin and is still based here. Forbes magazine rated Austin as the second most innovative city in the United States.
I think I tend to connect with the innovative culture because I am an optimist, I tend to focus on potential. I like to think big and imagine immense possibilities for the future. It is also exciting to get involved on the ground floor of something that may become huge.    
Unfortunately, focusing on potential can also lead to problems. Sometimes when I focus on someone’s potential, I fail to see the proof in the pudding, so to speak. For example, I once dated someone who I noticed did not go to church unless I was with her. Since involvement in a church community is something I think is important, I should have been concerned. Instead, I focused on her potential because we talked often about how God was very important in her life. Eventually I came to realize that the true importance of her faith to her was much more aligned with her church attendance than her words. 
In Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus uses an analogy to tell his followers how they should try to recognize the honesty of someone’s faith. He says that a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. It sounds so very simple, but it rings true in my life. In a recent book, sociologist and researcher Bradley R. E. Wright said that most survey research suggests that Christian behavior is much more aligned with regular church attendance than it is identifying ones’ self as a Christian.
As with most things, this has to start with me. As I examine my own life, I need to honestly ask myself: “Am I producing fruit, or just focusing on my own potential?” Would Jesus say to me: “Here is a man whose genuineness you can see through his fruit?” 
Second, I also think it is worthwhile to seek counsel from others whose lives reflect their ability to bear good fruit. I know that in the past I have tended to listen to just about anyone who offers advice. I think Jesus would have us weight their advice by the evidence of fruit in their lives.

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