To Be or Not To Be (of the flesh)

Life Notes—February 10, 2011

“And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.  For so long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?”  1 Corinthians 3:1,3 

Being of the flesh is not a bad thing.  In fact I enjoy it most days, as I believe I was created to do.  It is a blessing to use my earthly senses to smell, taste, touch, see and hear God’s creation.  There are sunsets, seasons, flowers, intimacy, food and all manner of earthly pleasures to experience and enjoy.  There is also pain, loss, sickness, evil and all manner of less-than-pleasant experiences to endure.  It is all part of being of the flesh. 

Where being of the flesh hangs us up is in trying to look deeper than the obvious to catch a glimpse of the greater picture of our lives.  Perhaps our greatest lack, being of the flesh, is perspective.  We live in the moment, which is a wonderful place; in fact, it is the only place we are fully capable of living.  But “the moment” is actually infinitely more complex than we can know.  For example, if I stick a pin in a map at the exact location I am sitting, I find myself in the middle of an infinite number of points in space—points to the north, south, east, west and everywhere in between.  In a three-dimensional map I am also in the middle of points above and below.  In a four-dimensional map (with time as the fourth dimension) I am at a point in time and space where that which has happened before and that which has yet to happen converge. 

Being of the flesh, we can only tangibly grasp the inputs coming through our earthly senses.  The rest is left to imagination or faith.  Without the ability to transcend our earthly natures, we know this train called Life is headed somewhere, but we have no idea where.  From our earthly perspective, we cannot see how the influences in space and time led to this moment.  And only by faith do we know we are headed somewhere good.  In the passage above, as in others in his letters, Paul encourages us to be “of” the flesh, but not “in” the flesh.  To me this means we live “in” the world, with all its imperfect uncertainty, but we find balance by being “of” a greater reality—the world of the Spirit, where we find meaning and hope, healing and completion through faith.  Living in the trees, we cannot see the forest…but we know it’s there. 

This Sunday Tom begins a downtown sermon series entitled “Who Are We?”  The first sermon is “God’s Servants,” based on 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.  Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall and traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch begins a sermon series at the west campus entitled, “Jesus Pushes.”  This Sunday’s sermon is “The Limits of Morality,” based on Matthew 5:21-37. Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Be both in and of worship!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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