Life in the Spirit
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 8:1–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Church Family: Family Forgiveness
Paul had a personal experience with God that changed his life forever. He spent the remainder of his life trying to share God with others. It seems strange to me though, that he never encouraged anyone to walk along the road to Damascus to meet Jesus - even though that is how it happened with him. Nor did he ever expect others to be struck blind before becoming saved. Perhaps less known, but even more perplexing is that although Paul spent several years in the wilderness, by his own words in his letter to the Galatians, nowhere does he specify that church leaders should go away to a deserted place and grow close to God like he did. In fact, there is very little of Paul’s personal experience that he tries to encourage others to follow in.
Perhaps this is because our personal experiences cannot be repeated or reproduced in the lives of others. God has a way He is going to work in my life that is unique to me. You and I can listen to the same song, read the same scripture, pray the same prayer and be moved in different ways. That’s just how God made us.
But Paul did have something to share. He spent all those years preaching and teaching the story of Jesus… and not just any story of Jesus, for there are many good stories about Jesus. No, Paul preached the story of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. He shared this story, because it was not his own story, but God’s story. Try as we might, we will never find ourselves in each other’s story, but we will all find ourselves in God’s story.
That story tells us about a forgiveness that is greater than anything we can ever feel or experience. Christ died for sins we do not even know we committed. He rose from the grave with a power that freed Him from every bondage. He offers us that same power through His forgiveness and love. I can know the forgiveness and love that is unique to me just as you can know God’s forgiveness and love that is unique to you.
In our churches and particularly in our families this gives us two important lessons. The first lesson is that we cannot give our children or other family members our experience with God. We can share our witness of Him, but we cannot make them have the same experiences. Secondly, we all experience the same forgiveness and love from God and so we are therefore commanded to find new ways to forgive and love one another, not holding our past mistakes against one another, but treating each other as free from the bondage of sin and death. The same grace that God gives to us, we are expected to share with each other and everyone else around us. Rather than expect others to be like us (including those closest family members) we are commanded to love each other in a way that frees them to become the people God created them to be.
Reflection: Our expectations and attempts to control the lives of others become tombs over time. What tombs have been built around your life that you need God to come and roll the stone away? What tombs are you building around the lives of others that you need to stop building?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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