Lectionary Reading: Romans 6:1-11 (NRSV)
Okay, I would like to be finished with sin but it seems to creep back into my life at just the wrong times! Paul addresses this issue with the fledgling church in Rome within this week’s epistle reading. He indicates that our “old self” is crucified with Christ so that we may not be “enslaved to sin.”
What does it mean to be “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”?
The first vow that United Methodists ask when a person makes a profession of faith is “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?”
We acknowledge that it is important for an individual to realize that there are forces at work beyond our control. However, we can control our own actions and we choose to live a different life.
Our expectation is not that a person will never sin again. We understand that temptation will overcome us. Our goal is perfection in love but it will take a lot of trial and error to get there.
If we overcome sin when we put on Christ, how come it is still so pervasive in our lives?
What kind of victory is it if we fall prey to temptation at the drop of a hat?
I think that Paul’s use of the words “old self” is key for us. We must recognize a new direction in which we are to walk. When the self is my idol, God has difficulty gaining a toehold in my life. If I am able to set aside the self and see the world through a different lens, I begin to make headway in my faith journey.
I do not take this to mean that I can never enjoy myself. It does mean that I shouldn’t enjoy myself if it comes at another’s expense.
I remember one of the twelve-year-olds I baptized at his confirmation telling his friends that he could no longer participate in their mischief because he was now baptized! It made a difference in his life and should make a difference in ours. In the Coen brothers movie, O Brother Where Art Thou, when Delmar is baptized it changes him. As his cohorts steal a pie from a window, he leaves a dollar in its place to pay for their transgression.
Delmar is not immune to sin but he recognizes its danger and seeks to overcome it.
As we remain in Christ, this overcoming of sin becomes more and more possible. It allows us to embrace the life that we are meant to enjoy in the here and now. If it has been a while since you have worshiped somewhere, I invite you to join with me this Sunday if you are in the Edmond area. It might just help with a multitude of things!
Check out Sam’s Blog here: http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com/
Photo by Daniel Lobo via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.