Flesh and Spirit
Quietly tugging away at our every decision are near-imperceptible factors. Like gravity, they sway us and spin us.
Cameron names three: desires (Ch. 7), the tug to be included (Ch. 8), and the ‘flesh’ (which kind of encompasses the other two) (Ch. 9).
None of these tugs are bad in themselves. We often desire good things! God has made us social beings- we want to belong, as well as material beings!
But Cameron helpfully points out the trend to totalize. He explains, “the basic architecture of ‘flesh’ is good. In the Old Testament, ‘flesh’ encompasses the needs of our bodies and brains, including our deeply felt emotions and our longings to belong…But the New Testament authors hold that it’s incomplete to think of ‘flesh’ as all there is to humanity; and it becomes evil to live as if ‘flesh’ is all there is to humanity.”
When I start thinking about this stuff I feel like a baby. I reckon I could count on one hand the number of decisions I have made which genuinely were not predominantly driven by my desires. Again and again I make decisions that put my desires, my longings to belong, my want for more stuff in the driving seat. I am a true infant in this process of living ‘according to the Spirit’ rather than just ‘according to the flesh’. How the heck do you do it?? I am a veteran in choosing what to buy, what to say, what to wear, where to go, all based only on flesh (that is, non-spiritual) factors. I feel like I would have to slow life down to a snail pace in order to bring spiritual factors into it at every step.
Sure there are decisions which God is not so interested in (Weetbix or toast?) but there are lots of decisions, emotions and attitudes which he is interested in.
Studying Philippians 4 in Bible Study, I was so struck by Paul’s anti-materialism. This guy moved the goal posts. His goal was not to be happy (although he did have joy). His goal was not to be comfortable, not even to have food and drink! Not even to stay alive! His goal was to honour Christ.
Dear God, help me! Help me broaden my view to see things from a material AND spiritual point of view! And thank you that we have your Spirit to help us!