Live by the Spirit

For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.

Everything this weekend’s readings call us to is hard. Get to work and don’t look back. Journey on with no place to lay your head. Follow, and don’t worry about the road. Use your freedom for holiness, not for serving yourself and your desires.

It helps, in one way, that all of these exhortations have to do with actions rather than emotions or states of being. It doesn’t matter what you feel, as long as you do what you should. And though we can’t always make ourselves feel, we can make ourselves act. 

So we do what we ought to, in baby steps at times but still moving. I, for one, often worry about it all slipping away – faith, that is. Because it is so easy to let the nagging distractions of the day to day keep me from finding time to connect with God in prayer. It is so easy to spend an entire day talking about God as if God is not right there in the room with me. It is so easy to do all the doing and none of the feeling.

The flesh is always there too, distracting with the reality of what it means to live in a body. I will never be one to speak ill of our enfleshment, indeed I cherish our created world. But often the flesh feels like a persistent, energetic child: a blessing temporarily disguised as one hell of a nuisance. 

Elisha and Elijah, Jesus and his companions, they are all in motion in this weekend’s readings. This is consolation for me. I know that I can keep going.

I may not always pray perfectly. I may not always “feel” holiness. But I can keep going. In my life, this has been how I “live by the Spirit”, to use Paul’s term. I run and dance, I stumble and trudge, hoping that I’m aimed toward the Lord, my inheritance, hoping that my motion still leads me toward salvation.

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