BY JESSICA GAPASIN DENNIS
Since marrying my husband (who was born and raised Protestant) almost 10 years ago, we’ve almost always belonged to 2 church communities: a Catholic parish and a non-denominational Christian Church. The way we’ve engaged in our faith, as an interdenominational Christian couple, has always been intentional about recognizing that each of us brings a unique perspective and unique gifts to our marriage, and that we want to honor and embrace those parts of our spiritual heritage that have helped us flourish in our relationship with God.
Over the years, what has always been a constant source of peace — in knowing that this approach to our faith life is what God is calling us to — is that more often than not, the messages that are being preached at each of our churches on a given Sunday are either related or even the same.
This past weekend, Pastor Charlie’s message lined up exactly where my personal prayer has been these past few weeks: discernment.
Even though he didn’t use that word specifically when preaching about Romans 8:1-6, his description about living in the flesh and living in the Spirit reminded me of Ignatius’ teachings on discernment and living in freedom and un-freedom.
Guys, Pastor Charlie was dropping some knowledge yesterday. Here’s one of my favorite parts:
We talk about our flesh and spirit as if it’s two sides to the human condition. That on one day we flip a coin, and we go: FLESH. Then another day we flip the coin: SPIRIT. And then we flip it again. Oh, FLESH.
That we have this sort of dual citizenship in our heart. If we were to look like a comic book character, we would be like Two-Face. Where there’s a sense that part of us is good and then there’s a part of us that’s not good.
The only problem with that is it really goes against the 1st-century Jewish understanding of God’s creation …that all of creation was good.
Paul understands that creation is good, but there is this proclivity to make decisions that take us away from God’s intentions.
So the way in which you and I should look at the flesh and the spirit is an opportunity to make a decision on which way we’re going to live, which way we’re going to choose, which way we’re going to conduct our lives.
We have the decision on a daily, even momentary basis to choose whether or not we’re going to stay in the spirit, to be in Christ…to be led by the Spirit. The reality is if we’re not led by the Spirit is then what we are led by is our own self-idolatry.
The devil doesn’t need for us to worship the devil in order for us to not worship God. All he needs for us to do is to be distracted from worshiping God…As long as we’re not in the spirit, then we’re in the flesh.
It’s easier than we realize to slip from the spirit into the flesh.
God wants us to be aware of how easy it is for us to move in and out and wants us to have a quicker recoil.
So, so many good things in yesterday’s sermon. About grace, about freedom, about the importance of living in freedom and not just sitting in our prison cells with the doors wide open.
If you’ve wondered what’s being preached in other Christian denominations, here’s a good place to start. There’s so much more that we agree on than disagree, and we have so much that we can learn from one another.