Self or Spirit – who prevails? by Deon Crafford
Rom 8:5-9 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Man/women has one universal quality that impacts his living on a day to day basis, either for good, or, which is more often the case, for bad. It is his/her vulnerability to absorption. Endless books and theories have been developed on how man/women shall and should strive to achieve a state of self actualisation, or keep achieving till there is no more achieving left. It is interesting to see on social media sites like LinkedIn how many people quote or submit words to the extent of pursuing the real things in life and not the fleeting or the materialistic, and yet the entire site is devoted to people marketing themselves and telling others how much they have achieved doing a certain job or how much they know or endorse a certain product, business or process. People keep quoting some of the most successful and wealthy entrepreneurs saying how they have come to know that wealth matters little and love is everything. And everyone becomes absorbed in this – as if having the same philosophy will by some kind of mysterious process produce the same kind of wealth. Man is absorbed into everything thrown at him, be that fashion, technology, political ideologies, business self-help books, MBA course nuggets. We’re sitting ducks. But so it should be, because this very same quality is what gets us absorbed into the Holy Spirit. If we had this incredible built-in defense system against absorption we would probably also not have been able to fall in love and faith would have been a ridiculous thought at best.
Problem is this though; there are so many things around us wanting to absorb us that the Holy Spirit is often relegated to the back end of our days and lives. What we find right at the front shouting “me, me, here I am!” is the self. I am in front of my queue of absorption. My desires, my issues, my agenda, my satisfaction, my status, my, my, my …….., that is what mostly grabs hold of us and sucks us in on a daily basis. We have so often spoken about who ultimately is in the centre of my life – Christ or I? We sing songs like “Jesus, be my vision, be the centre” and yet when an eye is cast over our lives, all we see is me, me, me. Is it that the Holy Spirit is powerless to unseat me from my throne? Indeed not, but the Holy Spirit as we may now have come to know, will not dwell where He is not welcome. When we grieve the Spirit through our excessive self-indulgence, we effectively state that He is not required in my life right now. The Spirit is all powerful but does not impose Himself. The Spirit is invited and I become absorbed into the Spirit when all else fades to grey. Does this then only happen when we worship Him in the church? Surely not, although that often appears to be the only time when I really am able to switch-off self.
When I am down and out for whatever reason, self is brought low and my heart opens up to the Spirit. Is it though not sad that we have to be brought to this place of weakness before we open ourselves up for absorption in the Spirit? How incredible would it be that in my best moments, in my highest achievements, in the midsts of a plethora of enticing things like my I-Phone X, the Holy Spirit looms largest and His fragrance fills my life. The true test of my faith is this, whether at any point in time in my life, as I reach out, I touch the Spirit, as I am absorbed into His being. May it be so for us as we grow closer to God.
Love to all