I bristle at the evangelical culture that is self-congratulatory and serves to shame.

I am not sure what is behind it. Are we trying to project a position of authority? Do we want others to feel bad? That they aren’t trying hard enough? That they aren’t close enough to God? That God isn’t really first in their lives?

Maybe we’re covering up our own issues. Maybe this is the condition of the heart of man on full display.

Then I remember:

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1 HCSB)

The Spirit of God testifies on your behalf, even in spite of the power of our often self-congratulatory and shaming culture.

But, if I am being honest, this is not where I seem to live. Rather, I live in the world where I think about “the things of the flesh,” and those shaming words from popular preachers and not-so-popular pew neighbors hit home when my mind is hostile to God because surrender and submission to the things of God come second.

Why do I feel like I am doing this all wrong? 

The “easy yoke” of Christ is more often a retreat than a home; it is a vacation spot, where I go when I find the time and need the rest. I always seem to return to the other place, where work is hard, anger and resentment come easily, and I find myself pressed against an unforgiving wall, clenching teeth and gulping for air.

I want to live in the place where the Spirit leads and not merely run away there when things get difficult.

It is a strange place. It does not look like a vacation resort; instead it looks like a slum. It is not a place to be served.

Maybe that is why it is so hard to take it seriously and so easy to forget.

It is the only place where the futility of creation (8:19-22) is both on full display and yet least oppressive.

God is saying something to me.

There is work to be done that is not like the work I have been doing. There is service to be done that is not like the service I have been doing.

God seems to be doing a new thing with me. Spirit of God, lead me.