An autistic person’s guide to the fruit of the Spirit
Part 1: Love
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The whole Bible is a love story. From the creation of the universe in love to the protection of the Israelites because of love. From the sending of Jesus in love to his sacrifice in love for us. The whole of the Bible is a story of the love of God because God is love, it is his nature to love — and if it is the nature of the Father to love then it is the nature of the Son to love and the nature of the Spirit to love. The nature of God is not divided.
This is the first of nine blogs on the fruit of the Spirit which I will be trying to do justice to between Christmas and Lent, and will be personal, about how I as an autistic person relate to this fruit.
Love is the nature of God. In fact, all the fruit of the Spirit is about God’s nature growing in us. How that affects each of us will be different, although it primarily depends on the personality of God, it involves our personality as well in responding. As my autistic brain is wired differently my response might be different to yours. Even if you are also autistic it is likely to be different to yours, autism is a spectrum, there is a great variety of autistic people.
But I can respond to God’s love. I do not “live in a world where nothing has a mind,” an untrue stereotype often levelled at autistic people. We also can empathise, sometimes too much, which is not always realised in people who demand that we empathise in the same way that they do.
God’s love is meant to be passed onto others. Jesus told us to love other people as we love ourselves. This is how God’s love operates, it is tailored to people’s needs. Wikipedia described love as both a virtue and a vice, the vice ” its vice representing human moral flaw, akin to vanity, selfishness, amour-propre, and egotism.” God’s love is not obsessive like that. It does not demand that we be the same but loves us as we are.
At a church weekend two years ago I said how tired I felt afterwards. The sessions where people split into small groups were bad, I cannot shut out the noise of the other groups around talking to concentrate on the one I am in. The enforced greet somebody at the beginning of the sessions and the clamour of mealtimes, all under fluorescent lighting. The mealtimes are the worst. I was told by another member of the church that they felt rejuvenated by it and that I should as well.
After that, you’d have thought that I would have avoided anything like that again, but no, I have signed up to go again in 2020. I got a lot out of it, but it was not the hustle and bustle but the quiet when I could get away from the noize to think about what we were being taught. Chats over drinks were good too when conversations were not forced but flowed naturally. And I was among friends.
How was that for an autistic sidetrack? I was trying to illustrate how God loves differently according to who we are and we should love each other according to who we are, but I got carried away and went off on one. Oops.
The Holy Spirit teaches us to respond to the love of God, it is a fruit that grows with time and with time we learn to pass that love of God on to other people, also as an act of love. We learn to love other people by getting out there and doing it, praxis I believe is what theologians call it, but Nike put it better in the slogan, Just do it. As we deal with people in love te Holy Spirit allows God’ds love to grow in us. We can learn a lot about how God loves us by acting in a loving way to others.
Just do it.