I love a good memoir. They’re raw, funny, sad, and real-ish. I say real-ish because memoirs are given more creative liberty than autobiographies. No one actually remembers all of those conversations, and sometimes what we remember isn’t exactly what happened. However, memoirs are based on truth, or at least the truth according to the individual writing it or according to how the individual perceived it as truth. Sounds vague, right?
But the thing I love about a memoir, not only me but we as Americans love, is that the memoir is the embodiment of experience. Here in America, we worship “the experience”. We love sharing stories, ours and others’, and we thrive on being nosy and knowing personal accounts of friends, coworkers, and enemies. We love to read what happened to others, we love to watch the horror of the news and what’s thankfully not happening to us. People make loads of money each year on creating a good experience for someone else. All of this happens because we also love individualism. We love what we know and what we create. If we’re really honest, we just love the self and the experience of the self. And so we love a riveting memoir which describes what happened to someone else because through it, we can put their shoes on and experience for ourselves what they have seen and heard detail by detail.
Like the memoir, we love to base our beliefs and perceptions of the world on what we experience, even though our minds are limited and finite. But if we base our beliefs about God on only what we’ve experienced, if we are governed by the memoir, we are creating God in our own image and limiting him to what we can imagine.
I was reminded of creating God in my own image when I read this verse the other day: “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6
That may seem like such a stretch, but when our own experiences and desires govern our minds as the ultimate truth, we live a polaroid life. We get clips here and there, instant pictures that govern our beliefs. Instead of watching the whole movie, we sit with our one picture and claim it as undeniably true.
But the mind that is governed by the Spirit (capital S because it’s God) is life and peace. When we rely on God’s Spirit and his Word for our guidance, we are putting our faith in something other than our limited self. We are hoping in what we cannot see and experience all the time. To be honest, it’s scary. I’m afraid to rely on anything or anyone other than myself.
But when I recognize how finite I am and how often I fail, why would I ever want to rely on merely what I know?
The verses suggest the difference between life with Christ and life for self or living according to what my flesh desires versus living according to what the Spirit desires. And we know the difference because life according to the Spirit is dying to self. If you’re doing everything that you want whenever you want, you can be sure you aren’t dying to self, and you aren’t living according to the Spirit. Our culture is one of the self. So living in the Spirit is often living counter-culture.
So the memoir may be a delicious piece of entertainment, and we may eat it up, but our goal in the memoir shouldn’t be to glean truth to live by. Our life truth must be from something other than what is worldly, finite, and broken. It must be from the one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6).