The 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Last Sunday, we heard all about how Fr. Rogers sinned in seminary. And something about chopping wood. Well, that’s all I remember, how about you?

I think he also called me a sinner. I thought he was my friend.

The last verse of what we heard last week from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans was this:

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

You know that sometimes our lectionary leaves out verses for whatever reason. This time, it’s Romans 8:7 and 8.

So let me read it all together for you.

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Verses 7&8

You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)

“To set the mind on the flesh” means to prioritize what pleases us instead of what pleases God.

Not only is it death, but it is hostile to God.

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God,

That verse weighs heavily on me.

I don’t know about you, but I know about myself, and Fr. Randy, and we sometimes, more that we would like to admit, set our mind on the flesh. Mainly when it comes to food.

I think he called me fat last week, didn’t he? No, that was about himself.

The appetite is a good way to understand what it means to set our minds on the flesh. Sometimes hunger is just a state of mind, right? If I have nothing to do, I get hungry. Why is that? Why do I get the munchies when I’m not very busy? Is it because my mind is not occupied?

Sometimes I get hungry just because I see something that I know is not good for me, like a delicious apple fritter. Do I know it’s bad for me? Yes. Do I eat it anyway? Well…

St. Paul is trying to convince us that we are supposed to be different. He reminds us throughout this wonder chapter that we are of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in you and in me.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (ESV)

I want to live like I am a child of God, don’t you?

It is the way to eternal life and peace. When I think about which way I want to live, the choice is simple. I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus, as one our hymns puts it.

St. Paul tells us that we have received the spirit of adoption, so we can call God “Abba! Father!”

This seems almost commonplace to us to day, but at the time of the writing of this letter, people were afraid to get so familiar with a God who has a reputation that is less than fatherly.

No one had ever thought to call God their Father, until Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father in heaven.” (Matt 6:9)

God had inspired much fear during the time of the prophets. In fact, people feared God for what he did to those who displeased him. Now, thanks to his Son our Lord, we learned that God the Father wants us to be his adopted children and heirs of his kingdom.

Then there is that last phrase:

if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Suffering is not high on my priority list. In fact I go out of my way to avoid it most of the time. Instead, I’m rather self indulgent. Sometimes I see something that I’d like to have, and I just get it. I don’t really need it, but it’s new and shiny so why not? I deserve it! Or so I think.

Later the buyer’s remorse sets in, right? So here we are.

Now, If I would only set my find on the Spirit, and stop being ruled by my desires, I might make some progress in this Spiritual life that I long for.

Perhaps if I would stop and think about if what I want is what my heavenly Father wants for me.

Does this please my heavenly Father, or does it please me?

If it is something that pleases me, can I live without it? The answer is most likely yes.

What then can I do that pleases my Father? I can pray, first off. That’s easy to do. I can come to church and hear the Word and receive the Sacrament. That always brings me closer to my heavenly Father.

I can do the works of mercy that he has set before me. I can contribute to the needs of the poor, and I can work to build the kingdom wherever I am. With this in mind, I resolve to live every day in the Spirit of God, denying myself, and picking up my cross and following Him.

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