To open class today, our professor shared with us some of his theological convictions to set the tone for the class. I really appreciate his openness- most of our profs play it really close to the vest and leave you guessing where they really land theologically.
For our prof, he finds the foolishness of the Cross as the starting place of theology. In his words, we have to embrace that we are basing our entire system of belief on something that world finds foolish. And in this foolish cross, we find the most accurate and complete picture of who God really is. He is a God that loves us so much he has given himself on our behalf. Any theological conclusions we draw must align with this.
In order to know God, we must respond to this foolish cross by following Christ in his death. Rather than a physical execution, we must experiencing a death of our old, sinful self which we call the flesh. As our flesh dies, and only when it dies, we can experience the joy and power of new birth.
And now here's the point he landed on that has me thinking tonight: in light of all this, why do we think we can manage the flesh? My prof stated, and I would agree, that even in our churches we have come to believe that we can clean up our old self and manage our flesh well enough so as to have a good life. This is a false, and misleading, assumption. As the apostle Paul wrote, "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do." (Gal. 5:17) In other words, if we want to experience the fullness of God in our lives through the presence of the Holy Spirit, then the flesh has to go. We don't manage or clean up our flesh. We let it die on the cross with Jesus and humbly wait for him to bring us to new life- life in the Spirit.
What do you think? How do we know if we're just trying to manage the flesh rather than allow God to kill it on the cross? What does it look like to be brought to new life? I have some ideas, but I'd love to hear yours. I would encourage you to spend a few moments meditating on Galatians 5:16-26. Powerful stuff!
May you know the power, and the foolishness, of the cross on your journey today.