I Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
I am within a working hypothesis. <- “natural man” terminology
I am walking in the spirit. <- biblical terminology
I’ve been aware of my own actions for quite some time. I daily consider what I’m doing, and whether or not changes are called for. I think there are many who have this in common with me.
I remember this cartoon sequence from when I was a child, there’s this tall thin with a large nose, and his lab assistant
– Clyde Crashcup and Leonardo –
He’s in a laboratory, mixing the contents of a beaker with the contents of a test tube and then there’s a
he bursts through the roof of his lab, flies through the air and out past the horizon line. A small poof of dust is seen where he’s landed and finally he is seen running back towards the lab yelling,
“I know what I did wrong!”
There’s the eager and earnest effort of the scientist pictured within his paradigm. I often refer to certain people who are acting foolishly as “rocket scientists”.
The bible calls this kind of life “living according to our own understanding”
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
As I’ve thought things over – now 53 yrs old – I’ve realized that each of us could spend a life time testing out perhaps at best two or three ideas of how things should be done. We run madly from the way our parents did things to our first choice, go through a number of years of our first sphere of reasoning (aka paradigm) experience our own version of Clyde Crashcup – and we remain within the confines of this realm, return to the vast wealth of “our own understanding” (cough) and come up with another beaker and test tube to mix together. We’ll never run out of ideas, just time. And if one of our ideas is particularly catastrophic our time may be cut short.
Back in 1997, as I stood on a street corner in the middle of the day, I had one of those moments of realization. I’m doing it all wrong. I’m not where I thought I’d be by now. A verse came to mind,
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15
I realized that I knew nothing of what it was to ‘abide in him and he in me’ I had to go back to the beginning.
Begin at the beginning? How can I do that? Go back to the heart of the problem. ME. Get ME into the proper perspective and then rethink, redo, replan…
Proverbs 1:7 The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence];
But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
These words “Kingdom of God” are crucial. They refer to the realm within which I live. We’re all breathing the same air, but we are not all of the same kingdom. The person who has given their lives wholly over to God have done so through the power of God. John’s gospel tells the story of the good news of Jesus Christ. There are those who understand this news, and that it is good news. And they accept it. John firmly states as a witness of Jesus Christ, that this is wholly dependent on God’s action toward us.
John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
If I look around my life and determine that I am a success or failure, I think Bonhoeffer would quickly point out to me that I am ceasing from my calling to ‘abide’ and have begun to examine my ‘fruit’. I am stepping from ‘walking in the spirit’ back into ‘leaning on my own understanding’
Trying to build on God’s foundation is like trying to use Lego and Mechano together!