Reading: Romans 8: 6-11
Verse 6: The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.
Paul establishes an either/or situation in today’s reading. Either we are controlled by the Spirit or we are controlled by the flesh. Either we submit to God’s ways or we pursue our sinful nature. Either we are alive as Christ dwells in us or we are destined for death. Either we are filled with God’s peace or we are hostile to God. Paul is drawing some clear distinctions.
For Paul, being a part of God’s family was a universal invitation. He did not see any limitations on who could live in covenant relationship with God. It was not by birth that one gains access. This remains true today – some born into a “Christian home” never find a faith of their own and others raised in a secular home come to a deep faith. Paul also saw no barriers in regards to race or ethnicity or nationality or status or anything else one could name. We also see this today. Jesus’ mandate to “make disciples of all people of all nations” has brought the gospel all around the world.
There are many, many people today who are active participants in fulfilling the great commission of Jesus. While some are in far away places bringing the Word of God to every tribe and tongue, most of us operate in a much smaller, more local context. While our prayers may go far and wide for the work of the church universal, our actions and words most often impact those close at hand. Those affected can be family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and even strangers.
When our “mind is controlled by the Spirit”, we exhibit a life of peace and love and hope. When we are filled with the Spirit, our lives are different than those whose live by the flesh. We do not chase after the things of the world because the Spirit helps us and leads us to trust in and to rest in God. We live life longing for and trusting in an eternal time when we will forever dwell in the light and love of Christ. The day to day of this life is small change. We are not held captive to but are set free from the power of sin and death that so easily entangles the world. We follow God’s ways and offer love and hope and peace to the world. This day may our lives be a living testimony to the power and presence of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit within us, drawing others into the kingdom of God.