As any individual has the opportunity to choose to follow Jesus Christ, they have an equal opportunity to walk away from their relationship with Jesus. When, and if, they decide to come back to reestablish a relationship with Jesus, the path toward a healthy relationship requires a new commitment to adoption and development of personal virtues according to scripture.
A virtue is an inclination to act, think, or feel in a particular way, and serves as the foundation from which an individual’s character is built; an individual’s character is where actions are birthed, which in turn further develops an individual’s character. (Fedler, 2006) The development of one’s virtue and character is not a destination to arrive at, but an ongoing process never truly completed. Early Greek philosophers saw character central to a life of moral conduct (Sarros et al., 2006, p. 683)
Virtues are foundational to a relationship with Jesus, and it would seem impossible to reestablish a relationship with him without the development of virtues. A relationship with Jesus is centralized around being a his disciple and emulating the lifestyle he lived through attitudes and perspectives as well as actions. Such virtues lead to happiness, productivity, and harmony for an individual (Sarros et al., 2006, p. 684). The intention would be that adoption and development of virtues as a reflection of Jesus yields actions and decisions that are also reflective of Jesus, which is necessary for someone in a relationship with Christ.
The core of Jesus’ mission to earth was to serve as atonement for the sins of the world, and likewise his followers are called to forgive others (Lk. 17:3-4). Even if there is an argument against the virtues Paul lists as those of the Spirit, forgiveness is a central virtue for every follower of Jesus Christ (Fedler, 2006).
Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Santora, J. C., Clemens, R. A., & Sarros, J. C. (1997). Views from the top: foundation CEOs look at leadership succession. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 18(2), 108–115.