Children of Two Worlds
John 3:6,7 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Have you ever struggled to reconcile your behavior with your faith? When enslaved to my addiction, I was in a constant state of conflict. I claimed to believe in God but I behaved in a manner that was completely antithetical to that belief. When my addiction came to light, those around me wanted to know if I was even a Christian. Christians do not behave this way.
I could not blame them for asking. I did not know either. I desperately needed an answer, so, I set out to understand my condition. I started reading and desperately seeking. This passage began to open my eyes the reality, that as a Christian, I am torn between two worlds.
In the story, Jesus told Nicodemus, a Pharisee, that he must be born again to know God. Nicodemus had already been born of the flesh, but Jesus told him that he needed to be born again of the spirit to know the kingdom of God.
Though we are born once physically and thus have a flesh life, we also need to undergo this spiritual awakening into the spirit life. Here, I think, is where many of us get a little lost. We tend to think that this new spirit life replaces our old flesh life so that we no longer are subject to the defects of the flesh life.
This of course is not the case. Just as our body (flesh) does not die at our spiritual birth, our flesh nature does not die. Thus, we now have two lives, the old flesh life and the new spirit life. We are now children of two very different worlds which are at war with each other (1 Peter 2:11).
This is why Jesus taught that we need to daily deny self and follow him (Luke 9:23). This is why Paul repeatedly commanded us to crucify the flesh nature. It is our daily choice to sow the seeds of our flesh, leading to destruction or to sow the seeds of the spirit, leading to life. The choice is ours, but the results are predictable.
This then, was how I came to understand my condition. Though I was a Christian, I had not followed Christ. I had followed me. I had, for a time, sown the seeds of my flesh and grown my own destruction.
Before I am too hard on that person of three years ago, I must ask where I am today. What am I pursuing here and now? Am I finding my meaning and purpose in my spirit life in God, or am I pursuing my flesh life?
I cannot avoid life in the flesh until I leave this body, so I cannot pretend it does not exist. I still need to eat, dress, go to work and perform my activities of daily living. The question is, Where do I find my ultimate meaning? If I find my meaning, purpose and joy in the pursuits of this flesh life, I will destroy both the flesh life and my spirit life.
It is only in pursuing my spirit life above all that I can live both the spirit life and the flesh life appropriately. It is only in pursuing God above all that everything else is in its proper place. This is the only solution to the conflict between my two worlds.