For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. -Romans 7:14-25, NRSV
This week, I was blessed to have the opportunity to share in Chapel worship at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. This institution gave me the chance to earn my two Master’s Degrees. During my time spent, I was challenged in many areas of personal theology, critical thinking, and theoretical analysis. I learned that studying the various aspects of God open the doors to unlimited possibilities addressing perspective.
As I shared with the assembled this week, I believe that we are in a great season to offer the world an answer for the challenges that are before us. With all the negative feelings, natural disasters, politicized anger, racism, and various other schisms, the people of God are in the right area to address all of these challenges spiritually, practically, and pragmatically. Yet, (generally speaking) we have not taken this great opportunity by the horns.
The apparent hiccup in our opportunity to be the people of God discussed in Scripture and life is division. The spirit of divisiveness is so prevalent in every space and on every level that we have not taken the time to address that this spirit is stripping away our focus on the mission of the Kingdom of God. Division does not develop over night. It is not something that just happens out of the clear blue sky. Through a simple revelation/reminder, I remember now that division begins with a divided individual.
Let me go deeper. The human being has three major aspects–mind, body, and soul. These three attributes grant every persons a complete perspective on life. Things exist that are above my thinking. Encounters and experiences cause me to consider the world around me. Thoughts cause me to become introspective. Thinking, connecting, and experiencing life is more than enough in the course of a 24-hour period.
Nevertheless, the individual can lean more on one aspect than another from time to time. The body works at it’s greatest and most optimal form when every part is on the same page. You know those days when you body gets plenty of rest; your mind is firing on all cylinders; and your spirit is not disturbed by anything. Your whole being is focused in the right direction. Everything about you is prepared to face any challenge.
Look at the flip side. You don’t get enough sleep; your family is facing an unusual crisis; and your soul is disturbed by injustice or other “environmental circumstances”. Nothing within your being is prepared to face anything. Every part of the body is now out of sorts. That concept brings about a greater awareness to the challenge that we face right now.
I can not expect anyone to move toward the goal if unity and progression if individuals are not successfully navigating the ebb and flow of life. Therefore, it is necessary to bring to the forefront the necessity for finding what brings the individual together. For me, I find peace and contentment when my whole being follows the will of God.
Paul says that the conflict within is the right nature of the Spirit of God versus the repetition of the flesh. My body knows act to act out of impulse and memory. The spirit only knows satisfaction when God’s will is involved. The settling of the conflict is determined by a decision (mind/mental) to submit to one or the other.
My humble suggestion is that we commission ourselves to become active negotiators of our being. We must bring every aspect to the table and remind each party of what matters most–God’s will. When the genuine desires of God are brought to the forefront, we position ourselves to think and consider God’s desires over our own.
Is it easy? No. Is it necessary? Yes. Will it produce greater results in the long run? Absolutely. The moment I begin to actively pursue the things of God, my disposition towards united with others strengthens. My desire to understand different vantage points begins to shift. I become a more viable representative of the change I wish to see in the world.
Unity must begin with forging agreement within our being. Otherwise, we will constantly show the our unwitting, unknowing, or unintentional hypocrisy to the world. Our challenge is to fight to constantly get right within. Know that it is not accomplished alone. But, the first step begins with the acknowledgement of the need to come together and be whole.