This blog has become a confessional lately.
I confess to my writer’s block, to my geekiness, to a tendency to let crazy thoughts rattle around inside my head.
Today I would like to confess that there is an occasional zombie shuffle to my walk.
Recently, the comments section on another blog brought Romans 7 into my headspace, so I have been pondering over it again. There are some pretty divergent camps that come out of trying to make sense of that chapter of Romans. Some will say that Paul is describing his life before encountering Jesus on that road to Damascus, while others see it as a spot on description of the struggle that they go through in the day to day Christian life.
I have generally fallen into agreement with the second category, but for the first time, I am seeing at least some truth in the first.
I think that the lens that we view the seventh chapter of Romans through often skews our reading in such a way that we miss the main point that Paul is making. We often look at these passages through the lens of sin, whether we choose to sin or not. What I feel Paul is really pointing to is that we can stop fighting this battle.
This is where the zombie metaphor comes in.
The battle against sin and death has already been fought on the cross. We have never been particularly good at fighting sin anyway, so God decided to do it for us. The resurrection was a victory lap.
Our flesh has been crucified with Christ, and along with it any pitiful expectation that we could use it to achieve righteousness on our own.
To walk in the flesh is not only to give in to our desire to sin, but also the impulse to justify ourselves through good works and close observance of the law. When we try to gain life according to our own actions, good behavior and observance of the law, we are trying to reanimate the flesh that has been put to death.
Paul is pointing out that the cross is calling us out of the shuffling and shambling life of walking in the flesh, where we stumble and moan through the constant judgment of our sins, only to drag our stinking corpse back to its feet again to stagger a little further.
We may be shackled to this body that is dead, but we have been invited to walk in a different manner, not in one that gratifies dead flesh, but that focuses on the Spirit which brings life.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…”
Legalistic systems would have us spend our days focused on the rotting corpse of the flesh, seeing where we might be able to patch up some decaying skin or cover exposed muscle and bone. All of this effort that we spend trying to make a dead body look lively gives us little energy or time to do what we have been called to do.
“… but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” [Romans 8:5]
As is generally the case, my understanding of these things is a bit of a moving target, so feel free to redirect me in the comments. In what ways do you “set your mind on the things of the Spirit”? I have to admit that when I start thinking about it, I start constructing new rules for myself, so insight would be welcome.