We’re hitting some days that are quite hot temperature wise. And we haven’t yet reached July, so it’s hard telling what this summer may bring. Actually, though there is an evident warming trend, what has been most noteworthy to meterologists here, not to mention fruit farmers, is the wild fluctuation in temperature. From hot in March to below freezing in April. Not conducive for any fruit crop.
But what about those days when it seems all is hot? When it seems like all is pitted against us, including ourselves. Of course there’s the seven deadly sins to consider: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. We had an excellent study of these over several weeks in adult spiritual formation at our church. And each of the sins as categorized is well worth considering. They are not called deadly for no good reason.
I like to consider our struggle during “hot” days in terms of the world, the flesh and the devil. We don’t do well when we lose sight of this. We are inherently weak and prone to wander, prone to become enmeshed in sin. The entire world system termed the world, and described by John as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is bent on selling us a lie. And the world is ever seeking to lure us with its goods. This is where we do well to be like the hermits. Unlike them really in the world, but like them seeking solitude from it. Or a kind of solitude or separateness. This problem has bedeviled Christians who at times make some outward code like dress a requirement in seeking to be different. But we do well to remember that the difference begins in the heart. I will do well in actions, how I live, only because my heart is where it needs to be. If I love this present world, or age, then it’s inevitable I’ll be swept up in that tide, and lost from God’s purpose for my life.
The flesh is again that aspect of our humanity which is very intimate to us, in a sense more than a part of us, but actually our true selves. We are enfleshed, bodily beings with certain impulses and drives which while being good in themselves, and part of our creation as human beings, are also tainted by sin through and through. So that what is good, even our strengths or blessings, can end up being our weaknesses and curse. So we are a mix of good and evil and thus under both blessing and the curse.
And then there’s the devil. Wily creature, hardly a person and yet personal, a power, an entity set against God and against humanity as well as against all creation. The devil is always a factor, ever at work, primed in the art of deception. One way or another the devil would bring us down.
So what is the answer to these hot days in which it may seem that the struggles of our soul are hard to bear? The answer is in Jesus himself, in God’s good news in King Jesus for us and for the world. Our faith must be centered in him. We must come back time and time again to Jesus and to his cross, his death for us, for our sins, for our forgiveness. And in that cross is the promise of life through his resurrection. Since by faith we indeed participate in his death, we also participate in what follows: his resurrection. And so we share in his resurrection life.
Because of this, we are crucified to the world, and the world to us so that we indeed are different. And we are to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. And we are to resist the devil with God’s armor given to us in Christ.
Awareness is half the battle, but then we must act on God’s revelation given to us in and through Jesus found in scripture. It is a victory in which we’re to live by faith. And yet one lived out in brokenness, knowing we do fall short. But that we also are more than conquerors in all of life through him who loved us. Together for the world.