I was talking with a friend this morning whose son just got out of a leg cast which had forced him into a wheelchair for a while and then onto crutches. He was telling me the strange unexpected phase 1 of post-crutches life was that his son still occasionally walked with a limp as if his leg was still in a cast and he wasn’t able to walk smoothly. The leg wasn’t the problem, it was his realization (belief) that he was healed. So he would catch himself limping, come to his senses and continue on with his healed walk.
This is a revealing parallel to our spiritual life. This morning’s sermon was on Galatians 5: 16-25, which starts and ends with the same concept: “16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Paul is telling us that all who are in Christ have been healed and are invited to live “in step” with the Spirit, the power of our newly created life. He goes on in the passage to firstly describe acts of the “flesh”, which are practical ways in which we walk in synchronized cadence with our old sinful self-centered nature, and secondly the practical dance-steps that the Spirit is producing in our new nature (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Here is what Paul is saying: our old nature HAS BEEN, IS BEING, and inevitably WILL BE crucified with Christ. Our brokenness has been healed by our crucified Jesus as he was broken in our place on the cross…yet we still “walk with a limp” even though our bones have been put back together. We fall back to the muscle memory from our old nature and limp around (i.e. “sin”, or serve ourselves), but then the Spirit reminds us of who we really are…that our old selves have been crucified and we have been given a wholly new life with new abilities. Sin no longer has power over us, though it still have presence and annoying persistence. But in the end, the sinful nature will be fully and finally defeated at which time it will have neither power nor presence. But until that day we are called to remember the Gospel: Who Jesus is, what he has done on our behalf, and who we now are in Christ…and walk in step (cadence) with the Spirit not out of guilt or fear but because we are healed and made to dance.