Stuck in Christian Sand
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
Someone once asked me what my obsession was with the flesh nature. The question caught me off guard. I thought the answer was obvious, as we were sitting in a sober housing unit surrounded by those who had torn their lives apart in following the destructive appetites of the flesh. The encounter forced me to look back to a time when I too, failed to comprehend the gravity of my own flesh nature.
While enslaved to my addiction, I didn’t understand how a Christian could act that way. I knew I was supposed to be a new creation in Christ, but I was drowning in the old life. I thought that if I was an addict, I must not know God. I thought I had to be one thing or another and that I couldn’t possibly be a Christian and have such a struggle.
Today’s passage was one of those that helped me to understand the tension of my condition as a Christian with struggles. In the story, Jesus asked his disciples to keep watch with him while he wrestled with his upcoming crucifixion. The disciples were tired though, and so, while Jesus was in agony, his best friends slept. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.
We live in the same condition. In Christ, we have a new spirit life of beautiful communion with God. We are free to follow him daily. We also though, while in these bodies, are burdened with persistent, seductive, and destructive appetites. We all have sinful, hurtful ways in which we pursue fulfillment, pleasure, and joy.
So, yes, as an addict who has caused massive destruction in my own life, I do have an obsession with my flesh nature. Or rather, I have an obsession with living free from the disaster of it. Sticking my head in the sand – even if it seems like Christian sand – and ignoring my flesh nature is perhaps the quickest way to find myself enslaved to it. My flesh life just naturally grows, killing my spirit life, if I’m not actively putting it to death.
To be a disciple, I must live as Christ commanded – daily denying self to follow him. This is freedom. I don’t have to live enslaved to my old nature, but I do need to understand and abandon its seductive power so that I may follow Christ, daily growing my new spirit life.