Text – Romans: 8:6-11:
6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Gollum, from “Lord of the Rings” is a great artistic rendition of the tortured mind. The mind that has higher longings but which are kept in chains by the lower self. Gollum wants the Ring of Power and is willing to kill for it, but at times he is overwhelmed by compassion for his Hobbit companions.
Paul describes the divided mind in Romans as he talks about his own internal struggles, sometimes doing the very thing that he does NOT want to do. Like Gollum. In today’s text Paul describes the human struggle as setting the mind on the fleshly self versus setting the mind on God’s Spirit.
Lent helps to highlight this internal struggle as we think about the things we’d like to rid ourselves of as well as the things we’d like to increase in our lives. To live our lives more in keeping with God’s Spirit is also to bring the mind and the flesh in harmony.
Dear Father, like Paul, we have a war going on within ourselves between what we want to do and what we feel drawn to by human appetite. Like Gollum, we pursue the ring of power, and the more we do, the more its hold on us increases. So we pray that You through Your Spirit will remind us of our true desire and help us to remain faithful to that. In Jesus’ name. Amen