I really enjoy the book of Romans. In today’s reading from Romans 8, I have always liked verse 6, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” This verse has been on my verse list for some time.
In this verse, Paul is not defining two categories of people; rather, he is using the opposite extremes of the spectrum to illustrate two ways of living life. To illustrate this point, I like a story told by James Boice from the life of the English abolitionist, William Wilberforce. Wilberforce, a strong Christian, had tried unsuccessfully to get his friend, William Pitt, the Prime Minister of England, the person Pittsburgh is named after, to go and hear the great British preacher, Richard Cecil. Pitt was a nominal Christian only, and Wilberforce thought the preaching of Cecil might awaken faith in his friend’s heart.
Finally agreeing to go with Wilberforce, Pitt attended Cecil’s preaching service, where the two sat and heard a powerful and wonderful presentation of the truths of God. Wilberforce was sure that his friend, Pitt, would sense the truth and embrace it wholeheartedly. But as they left the service, Pitt turned to Wilberforce and said, “You know, Wilberforce, I have not the slightest idea what that man has been talking about.” Boice concludes by saying, “Clearly, Pitt was as deaf to God as if he were a physically dead man.”
The easy observation is people at the far end of the spectrum. But, like Boice’s story, Paul is also talking to us – those who profess to be Christians. We are called to live a life controlled by the Spirit. To act out our faith. To preach the gospel without always using words.
Peace be with you on this Holy Saturday. Allow your mind to be controlled by the Spirit.