“The Thing I do, I hate. . .”

Here’s a meditation on Romans 7:15-25

Before we decide that St. Paul has gone around the bend, before we analyze him from the view of modern psychiatry, before we dismiss that second reading from the Epistle to the Romans as the ravings of one gone mad, perhaps we might pause for a moment of gratitude. We might be thankful for his candor and self-disclosure. We might rejoice for his fundamental honesty. Because what we could learn from the 2nd reading this morning is that life in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit entails hard work. It is an invitation to a life of self-discovery in the light of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. To embark on the life is essentially to engage in journey, no; more than a journey, an adventure of growth in the life of the spirit.

Of course, God loves us just the way we are. But that’s not to say that he has the expectation that we will engage in the that journey towards the fullness of life in the Holy Spirit. And eventually, in that life of the spirit, if we are faithful to the promptings and the calling of the grace of God, we will come to a realization. And that realization is twofold.

-One, that you are being called to become something other than what you are today, because God is not finished with you yet.

-And Two, that as we become more attuned to life in the power of the Holy Spirit, that there is a gulf fixed between where we are and the high ideal that we are called to in the completeness of life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

That’s because it is, as we all know, impossible for us as human beings to live fully and completely every minute in the life of the Spirit. Even if we were to live in a place where the distractions were minimized, it would be impossible for us to with that much energy and intentionality. Eventually we come to the recognition that there is a distance from the high ideal to which we are called and the reality of where we are in human terms. Curiously, the more aware we become of the potential which is ours in the of life in the spirit, the more we are also aware of just how short we fall from the ideal. While we might delight in the law of God, like Paul, the more we are aware of what life might be like in the Holy Spirit, the more aware we become of how our mortal nature weighs us down.

Sometimes it is alleged of Christians that we seem to be people who are preoccupied with sin. In some popular perceptions, Christians are characterized as the sort of people who are no fun to be around, who can’t lighten up and enjoy life, who have an overwhelming sense of rigidity in making sure that they don’t transgress the commandments. I would tell you with tears in my eyes that I have known well-meaning people who present Christianity in this fashion. But that is not the essence of Christianity. Christians are called to be preoccupied, not with sin but with life in the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. We would be doing a greater service to the mission of the Church if we could figure a way to articulate this better and more accurately.

Canon Greg+






About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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