Like Filling a Punctured Tire
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1 Corinthians 15:50
Years ago, when I was much younger and ran triathlons, I headed out west for a race in which I hoped to do well. I was in the best shape of my life, and thought perhaps I could place in the top three. The first leg went well, but only a few minutes into the biking, I hit a deep pothole and blew a tire. In my panic and disappointment, I desperately tried to use my pump to refill the tire. It was hopeless though. The tube had a huge hole in it and was incapable of holding air. It didn’t matter how hard I pumped. A punctured tire cannot hold air and I couldn’t finish a triathlon without a bike.
As foolish as my efforts were, this is something I’ve done metaphorically in other areas of my life. In the calamitous consequences of my drug addiction, my family and career were in shambles. While in treatment then, I desperately attempted to fix those things. I had a hard time keeping my focus on recovery as I kept trying to put the rest of my life back together. My counselor wisely told me that none of those efforts mattered if I didn’t figure out how to stop using drugs. As long as I had that gaping hole in my life, I couldn’t fix anything. I first had to find recovery, and only then I could begin restoring everything else. While I was addicted, I couldn’t fix anything.
This is the futility that Paul described in today’s passage. In it, he drew a sharp distinction between our physical and spiritual existence. He taught that we can live according to our flesh or according to our spirit. While we live our way, we cannot grow spiritually or inherit the kingdom of God.
We often try to do this though. We cause ourselves misery and destruction in doing things our way, and then we go to God, begging for his blessing. We don’t abandon our path. We just want God to make us feel good. When we don’t find peace, we blame God. Paul’s words revealed the error of our ways. If we truly desire to enjoy the fruit of God’s Spirit, then we must live by the Spirit. We cannot be filled with joy and peace while we’re living in the corruption of our way. Only when we daily abandon our path to follow Christ’s can we truly experience the life for which we were created.