Based on my previous understanding of Christianity there were three rather distinct aspects of being a Christian. The first was the procedure by which you became a Christian. The second was way you worshipped God after becoming a Christian. And finally there were the new behaviors which one embraced outside the church in one’s day to day life.
The aspect of salvation procedure was endlessly debated in my church experience. Some churches supposedly knew how to get you saved and others decidedly did not. To be instructed by the wrong group meant you only thought you were a Christian. Under the belief system I inherited, many poor folks were deluded in their Christian allegiance and doomed to suffer a rude awakening.
The second aspect above boiled down largely to the question of how to practice church properly. What church should a Christian affiliate with? What essential doctrine must be taught and embraced? What public rituals must be used to worship and praise God in the right manner? How should the church be organized and operate?
The third aspect, involving behavior modification, really had two subsets. The first was encompassed a list of rules defining public piety for all Christians. The rules on this list were in constant flux as societal norms evolved, and different denominations had their own understanding of the identifying pious behaviors.
The second subset of behavior involved how a Christian related to his or her fellowmen, how we treated our neighbor. Within this category, I would definitely include practice of the fruits of the spirit as delineated by Paul in Galatians 5:22. These are the attributes which Paul implied would distinguish the Christian. Significantly, the first of these fruits is love. When one looks back at I Corinthians 12 and 13, we see that Paul there explained the receding role of spiritual gifts and the ultimate supremacy of love. Paul pointed beyond the then current church practices to a stage of spiritual maturity in which the fruits of the spirit would mark those who believed.
To my way of thinking, Christianity has suffered from arrested development for centuries now. Somehow doctrinal conformity, accepted ritualism, and practiced piety have become the sought after characteristics of the Christian. Little time and effort has been left to focus on the growth in the fruits of the spirit, which were intended to be that which identified a mature follower of Jesus. Majoring in the minors of the past has left the world in a continuing state of childishness.