As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
In the eastern side of Canada, about the year 1645, there was what is called a Two-Row Wampum Belt. This belt was one way the early Iroquois people of eastern Canada preserved their way of governing and maintaining their laws. The belt was made with different kinds of shells, and the two rows of beads had significant meanings. They also represented a person’s credentials and authority in the community. This belt was used when the first treaty agreement took place between the leadership of the Haudenosaunee people and the Dutch.
This first treaty was called the Gusweñta, and like all treaties, this was called a living treaty between the two groups of people in the agreement. Each of the two rows of beads represented each people group and the lifeways of that people group. In this case, these two groups were the Haudenosaunee and Dutch. It meant that as each group moved forward, moving side by side as equal partners going down the river of life, they shared mutual respect and didn’t interfere with each other’s affairs.
When thinking of treaties, I can’t help but think that our God is a covenant-making God. It all started with the covenant between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, as described in Genesis 2 and 3. Adam and Eve disobeyed God when he asked them not to eat certain fruit from a particular tree, so sin entered the spiritual DNA of all humans. Then God made a covenant with them. This eventually led to the Messianic covenant, where Jesus brought humans back into a right relationship with God the Father.
Learning about these early relations also reminded me of what the Apostle Paul said about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-25: “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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
This passage is about getting along as we go down the river of life together. The great thing about these nine attributes is that they are singular. This truth is called the fruit of the Spirit—singular, not plural. When you compare this with other Scripture passages in the New Testament, and when this passage is taken to its logical conclusion, you’ll see that love is the foundational and overall aspect of how all of this works together as a singular working unit.
I thought about the function of this early way of making agreements because it laid the foundation for future treaty agreements. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. If we allow the Holy Spirit to enable our attitudes and behaviors, all nine attributes will be lived out as we live side by side with our neighbors. In the workplace, in schools of all levels, in our homes, churches, and the community at large. The Dutch people experienced this in the 1600s, but the Apostle spoke about getting along 1,600 years before that.
As Christians, we are called to encourage and spur each other to good works as we live out the fruit of the Spirit. Why? Because as believers, we are part of this new covenant when we invite Jesus into our lives. The Two-Row Wampum Belt points to Jesus because Jesus and this new covenant not only puts us into a right relationship with God but also allows us to make any human treaty that much more successful for both parties.
Just as the Two-Row Wampum Belt would show the credentials and authority of the leaders in the community, Jesus’ credentials reveal what power and control our heavenly Father possesses. This gives us hope because then, as we navigate our relationships with other people from other ethnicities, we can have a Godlier attitude and the behavior that goes with it.