Differentiation........ Our Wednesday morning guys group has been talking about differentiation - what is the difference between someone who purports to be a follower of Jesus and someone that doesn't. Something that is observable. This is harder than it sounds. We started by looking at Nehemiah and how it was his goal to re-establish Jewishness - no work the Sabbath, no inter-marrying, the tithe, feasts; some of which appeared to be "common" to the religions around them; some of which did not (Sabbath and inter-marrying). We then began to think through the distinctiveness of those committed to obey Jesus as compared to other organizations. Adding to the discussion is a book "unChristian" that one of the guys recommended. It is a summary of how 16-29 year olds look at Christians - not too favorable.
We basically landed on two observable items (that are related) - showing love for each other and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, meekness, self control). Note that it says "fruit", not "fruits". They are a unit. They all come. I think that it a differentiator - a Jesus follower, who has the Spirit of God, will evidence all these characteristics in increasing measure. My personality type does not struggle with evidencing some of these, but others are hard - especially when pushed by someone who is being a jerk.
I have begun to focus on allowing the Spirit to work in and through me instead of me working on these things in my own power. I believe that this is the primary differentiator between those committed to obey and follow Jesus than other organizations.