Monday, January 18, 2010

thinking on the struggle between spiritual and physical life

The Spirit gives life. I believe this. What life does the Spirit of God give? It is divine life... its source is the Father God. It is a second creation, different from the first creation, a new intervention from God.

For there to be a second creation there must be a first creation. First I was given the incredible gift of physical life. Given this by God. These two then are not enemies - they are not fundamentally in opposition - both are the good gifts of God.

The theological idea of human sin - which we have all witnessed unfolding down through history (ours and wider history) -whose roots have sunk so far into human essence that by nature persons are 'bent back in on themselves' does not negate the good gift of our human physicality. John Wesley (whose theology carves the path our tradition runs along) teaches that salvation is about this present life as much as the next. Of necessity it involves respect of the body, physical wellness, and care of creation, all of which can be (wrongly I believe) dismissed as unimportant in salvational matters.

Persons (me and you) are given the beautiful dignity of choosing the direction of our journey. The choice between 'flesh and spirit' though, is not strictly the choice between spirituality and physicality. Both our spirits and our bodily life can move toward the life of the Spirit. It seems to me that we do not understand this well.

There is a real tension here - nature/grace, flesh/ spirit - and a real choice. To honor the body and choose for wellness when we have that possibility is not against the life of the Spirit. In fact, such a choice moves our bodily life toward gracious unity with God and away from the obsession to satisfy all the greedy demands of our flesh, seeking to make slaves of our choices.

Hatred of the body does not equal love of the Spirit. Although there will be 'contests' between our physical desires and the wooing of God, we can firmly reckon that both our physical life and our spiritual life are magnificent gifts, conceived in the mind of God and handed to each of us, personally.

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