The bible tells us those in Christ are sons and daughters of the most high. As sons and daughters, we are characterized by walking according to the Spirit and not walking in the flesh. We might immediately wonder what these terms mean; 'walking in flesh' or 'walking in the Spirit'.
Walking in the flesh can be anything from looking at this world with just our physical eyes, to action and decisions based only on our 'feelings' and 'emotions'; in essence living with a mindset that says, "It's all about me, my comfort, my joy and my content." No cost is too great when we walk in the flesh. Subsequently, our joy and happiness is based on emotions, feelings, circumstances, finances, etc. Many of the things that affect this list are completely out of our control.
To walk in the flesh is to walk in fear. This is a fear of every outside influence; weather, virus, bacteria, job, money, boss, family member, nightmares, neighbor's dog, and whatever else affects our comfort and happiness. When we sit on our throne, we alone have to figure out how to overcome the negative affects of life. We quickly figure out that control is a thinly veiled illusion. In that realization, we become even more fearful. Read the words of AW Tozer:
"In every Christian's heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross. If he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar, but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility."
? A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ
Tozer similarly states what Paul said to the Roman Christians; Christianity and carnality don't go together. Those who walk in the Spirit, who are in Christ, have denied themselves, pick up their cross daily and follow Jesus. It's not about us, our emotions, our joy and contentment; it's about Christ. And when there is suffering or affliction in our life, we don't respond in a panic as if every discomfort is an attack from Satan on our cushy Christian life. That's not to deny that Satan does in fact attack us and attempt to steal our joy. But can he steal in the flesh what was born in the Spirit? Paul would say, "Certainly Not!" (Maybe even with a slap of the nearest pulpit.)
As a follower in Christ, we will suffer in this world. How could we not? We are no longer of this world or its value system. Christ didn't just suffer on the Cross, but every day, in seeing the affects of sin on this world and its people. He suffered when people died in their sins. In our walk in this world today, we can walk in victory in Christ. But within that victory is a broken hearted suffering if we indeed have the mind of Christ. We are to venture through this dark and dying world, in essence saying, "This is where the Lord has me today. Since I am in Him, and He in Me, He has me here for His purpose and glory." This is true whether we understand the purpose or not. Let us learn our lessons quickly and well. Let us have our eyes on Christ so as not to miss what he has in store for us. Let us not quench the Spirit but deny the flesh and walk in that Spirit.
I'm no fan of the Message but I like the picture it presented In Romans 8 of the walk of a Christian.
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (The Message)
Strange isn't it. In Christ the dark cloud is lifted, the gloom of sin is gone, we no longer live according to that sin, law and flesh. But, we still suffer in this new liberty, but its a different kind of suffering. Now that we operate in the eternal and infinite, the scale is larger and our little daily problems are a momentary and light affliction. This life isn't working and grinding it out every day to arrive in a place of comfort to enjoy before we die. In Christ, every day is a great adventure. This brings to mind the Steven Curtis Chapman song:
We'll travel over, over mountains so high
We'll go through valleys below
Still through it all we'll find that
This is the greatest journey that the human heart will ever see
The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams
Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure
Happy New Year - May God bless your trail in your Great Adventure!