Posts Tagged ‘The Big Easy’

Metaphorically, New Orleans accurately represents the flesh and the spirit. Whether football fans or not, we are the New Orleans Saints. Whether Mardi Gras marchers or not, we are also the sinners of “The Big Easy.”

What do we do with such contradiction? How do we reconcile the beauty of the architecture, food and southern hospitality with the vulnerability and propensities of the Mardi Gras?

Throughout scripture and particularly in the Book of Romans, Saint Paul addresses this struggle of the human-vs.-God persona that piggybacks our lives. It’s almost impossible not to feel the theological weight Paul was carrying because this  great “saint” also considered himself the worst of all sinners:

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15

How is it possible that we who inhabit the seediest sections of New Orleans’ French Quarter can also choose to be inhabited by The Holy Spirit?

While waiting in line outside Preservation Hall near the famous/infamous Bourbon Street, a self-proclaimed homeless “sinner” holding a creative cardboard sign with a twisted message butted in line and literally stood in my face. His placard read: “I am not working. I need alcohol.” An honest sinner he was. A tactful one, he was not. I told him he needed Jesus. He shook his head defiantly. No. I told him we’re sinners. Surprisingly, he slurred out the words, “I am a sinner.” Here was a man who knew his condition. Like I said, he was honest. But he could not bring himself to accept Christ’s forgiveness for his sins. I marveled.

Isn’t he a picture of so many? I once stood in his place. I thought I could bum my way into heaven without grace. Sure, I knew I wasn’t perfect. But I didn’t like the idea of Christ buying my way in. As Paul worked his way through this exact spiritual equation, God gave him some revelations that are not to be ignored by us sinners.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” Romans 8:5-8

Jesus addressed this same thing when He said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you- -they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63

So, with the Apostle Paul, I revel in the grace that Jesus offers: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1,2

Based on the advice of the “chiefest of sinners,” the only way that saints go marchin’ is by following in the steps of “THE Big Easy.”


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