Enemies and Gravity; What Keeps us from Walking Forward?

Russell Minick 0 Comments

We love having enemies. They are extremely handy. Enemies allow us to have an external reason for failure and frustration. That is much more useful than having to look inside at our own shortcomings. “If it weren’t for them I would be healthy and productive!” But what happens when there is a lull in conflict and no improvement? We get exposed. Others are much less of our problem than we would like to think. So what is our problem?

Mainly our problem is that we live in a world with upside down gravity. This world is physical first, mental second, spiritual last.

The Fallen Way

The Renewed Way

CREATION AS ULTIMATE

CREATOR AS ULTIMATE

BODY

SPIRIT/WILL

MIND

MIND

SPIRIT/WILL

BODY

 

This shows up in a number of ways in the New Testament. In the Sermon on the Mount, this is why Jesus argues not to be focus on fixating on the problems of others. In Matthew 5 he gives the admonition to demonstrate love regardless of how unkind the other person may be. Essentially his argument is that your task is to be loving and you do not let enemies have the power to change your commission. They may insult, accuse, abuse etc., but whatever else we do in response we must not allow them to knock us of our course of growing in love.

In Matthew 7 Jesus is giving advice on how to actually go about living out the vision of life he described in chapter 5. Part of his advice for making progress in living the renewed way is not to focus on others as objects of your judgment. He exhorts that the problem is not just avoid being negative (don’t poke around for little specks, you have your own problems). He also says don’t be pushing pearls of positive exhortation on people who aren’t asking for them. It frustrates you and them.

So where do you go for progress? God. Ask, seek, knock. Getting realigned with God as ultimate, instead of acting as if everyone else were the issue, gets the focus on the Creator not the creation (the essential problem of fallen-ness).

In Romans 12 Paul highlights some practical steps:

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

The renewal is getting our bodies back in line. My body should serve my mind, and my mind should serve my spirit/will, and my will should serve God’s will. The biggest problem with living out God’s will is not specifically other people. Too often the problem is that my body makes excuse which my mind helps rationalize and my will activates such that I am able to avoid the hard work of meaningful change. My body receives rewards via coping mechanisms which are only activated when my mind is convinced that I deserve whatever the coping mechanism is. Common coping mechanism include comfort foods, extra napping, or more dramatically indulgent carnal rewards like seething in anger or in sexual perversion, both of which generate adrenaline which is a real treat for the body. Being ‘hard done by’ is an important ingredient in rationalized sensuality. If we don’t have excuses like “But they…”, then we have to just admit that we like being carnal. We would much prefer to think that we are essential spiritually noble, its just that we need a little stress release due to how unfairly life has been treating us.

So, how does this get moving? Essentially, there has to be a rejection of the whole system. Physically I need to offer my body as a living sacrifice. It exists to serve my spirit/will, not the other way around. My mind should likewise focus on what my spirit/will says, not on what my body says. But my own spirit/will is not so reliable. That is why I need to submit to my creator and submit my will to his, because his is good and perfect (telos, mature, complete).

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