Who do you follow?

Sermon Romans 8:12-25

Debtors to the flesh.  What is this?  If we live life so that our choices are all determined by our wants then we will merely die, not at the end of our lives but now.  If we live by the Spirit though, the desires of our bodies will be put to death and we will live!  We cannot live a full life just living to our wants and needs.  We need for those wants and needs to be put to death so that we are no longer indebted to them.

Put yourself in a place where you experienced great joy.  For me this was a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).  At the age of 13 this was my first camping trip and this was where I first encountered loons.  These marvelous birds which I had never seen before, would call to each other every night we were there.  In the moonlight I could see them swimming by on the lake.  Sitting on the shore, Looking out over the Lake, up to big dipper, the full moon, the sounds of wave lapping at my feet, the call of the loons and the fresh air.  I saw here for the first time at the young age of thirteen the grandeur of creation.

Upon returning to Mankato, the city where I grew up, I could hear creation groaning.  I had not noticed it before, but I saw where things had changed from how they were intended by God.  Were it not for the Spirit instilled in me, Dwelling in me, I could not have seen the wonder of creation in the BWCA.  I could not have heard it breathe there.  This was the first time in my life that I was able to step outside of myself.  I saw creation in all its glory.  The Spirit changed my world.

I was not in the BWCA because it made sense, my warm bed, my Nintendo, my friends, all back home.  These were the things important to a thirteen year old boy.  Summer vacation had just started and I was in the Boundary Waters sleeping on the ground in a tent, cooking meals over a campfire, all without my friends.  The spirit allowed me to move away from such things for a spot of time.  I did not have my favorite things from home with me.  Much like the column of flame and smoke that lead the Israelites through the wilderness.  The Spirit leads still today.  Though it may not be so visible.  I don't know that I have ever seen a person much less a group of people following a pillar of flame around the wilderness, except perhaps at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

The Spirit is there though, leading us.  Much like on Pentecost she is here today.  The Spirit leads us out of slavery to the flesh, we are no longer debtors to the flesh.  She leads us away from a world dominated by nationalist agendas. For such devotion is ultimately a devotion to an idol.  Not devotion to the LORD our God.  The Spirit leads us into adoption by The LORD.  An adoption that makes us heirs along with Christ.  Yes we are adopted into the Holy Trinity, along side the LORD, His son Jesus, and the Spirit.  We are heirs with with Christ.  But being an Heir with Christ involves a life like Christ's.  And as we all know, there was a bit of suffering in his life.

Thus when we look out over our place that brings us joy, we start to see fraying at the edges.  The edges of that place, the edges of reality.  Ultimately we cannot stay there in that joyful place.  For if we stay there we do not live the life we are called to in Christ.  The Spirit changes our world.

When we stay in that joyful place and ignore the spirit calling us to move on, we become slaves to that place.  The spirit calls us away from our comforts.   Into joy, but then also away from that joy so that we have a taste of what is to come and are able to witness to others of the Glory that we know in Christ, in God and in the Spirit.  The Spirit, she changes the world.

Jesus knew this Glory.  As Jesus is the Word and was there when God spoke the world into existance.  Jesus was there when God, as a pillar of fire and cloud, led the Israelites through the wilderness.  Jesus knew the glory of God and came to Earth, became one of us, to live with us in this world, in this creation that groans with labor pains.

So then, I had to go back to Mankato.  I had to leave the BWCA.  I did not return the same person though.  For I saw the Trinity in the BWCA.  But that revelation changed me and I could not hold the change in.  I had to change my outlook on life.  I saw the Glory of creation and it changed me.  This change caused great suffering in my life.  I poured out love.  You can imagine how well that went over in Jr. High.

One who claims Christ as LORD defies the temporal power structures.  As you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and your nation.  you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and Nike.  you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and The Vikings.  you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and The Twins.  you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and the republicans.  you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and the democrats.  you cannot have allegiance both to the LORD God and the green party. The Spirit frees you from the debts of the flesh. She changes your world.

The Spirit then makes life uncomfortable.  We have a vision of what life truly is.  We know and have seen love poured out.  The spirit gives us that.  Yet we are here, now.  With creation groaning all around us.  We hear the groaning in the halting of flights due to a groaning volcano.  People dying in earthquakes in Haiti and China.  Teenagers dying in horrible traffic accidents while driving late at night.

We see all this suffering and hope for change.  We as fellow humans, as Christ's followers, Spirit followers, suffer when others suffer.  It is normal and right for us to suffer in these circumstances.  This hope that we hope for is not a political promise by a presidental canidate,  This hope is for the inbreaking of God, for the redemption of our bodies and the world.  The Spirit calls us forth, leads us out of or comfortable places where we think that we know God.  The Spirit leads us into places where God is present and working, places of pain.  We see and feel God's suffering in the suffering of others.  We know that this is not the world that is to come.  We suffer here now with this knowledge, with Christ.  The only thing this brings us is to a place of hope.  Hope for what could be.  Hope for God's perfect love.

If the desires of our bodies are put to death by the Spirit working within us, then we are no longer debtors to the flesh.  Once we see the Spirit active, we then have a choice, and we must respond to the action of the Spirit in our lives.  We can either let it go, ignoring it, watching move about on the horizon.  Or we can embrace it and follow it wherever it takes us.  Truly once you have seen the Spirit active in your life you want nothing more than to follow it as it leads you.  Even if you have settled down into your place of joy, and you are covered in moss as you have not been moving, you can still see the Spirit moving on the horizon.  Get up, the world is new, the world has changed, embrace and follow the spirit.


No comments:

Post a Comment