April 1, 2020
To set the mind on the flesh is death,
but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
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.
Romans 8:6, 11 NRSV
Romans was written to a group of strangers whom Paul had never met. In Rome, the new believers in Christ came together as the early church spread from Jerusalem. Paul wanted to insure that this community of faith realized that the Jewish religion contributed significantly to the beliefs and worship in the early church. As he discusses these essential things, Paul speaks of the Spirit, which in Greek is a different word: pneuma. This is the same Greek word used to replace the Hebrew word (ruach) when the Greek scholars translated the Hebrew Scriptures into the common language of the day. And, Paul uses the Spirit with this Hebrew meaning of breath, wind, and the essence of life itself.
All of these elements of pneuma and ruach are creations of God. So, through Paul we have this knowledge now that this is God’s intent: for each of us to understand this significant aspect of God and God’s Spirit. But, how can it apply to you and me? Think of your own breathing: It is natural, not forced. And yet, the first breath each of us takes came from God. It is the beginning of life! It is the turning point in a child’s wellness at birth. Everyone in the delivery room waits for that newborn to take in air for the first time. When it happens, joy fills the room. If it doesn’t happen, it’s a full-blown emergency, and the professionals work as only they can to save the newborn at that critical time.
Like that critical point in life for any human being, Paul is telling us that God remains our source of life and our faith. God is present with us, even in times of emergency, such as we have swirling around us now. And, when we believe in God through Jesus Christ we know that the Sprit, the Breath of God, is with us. And, God’s Spirit remains within us- forever!