Embracing Life

How hard it can be to live in a new vision of reality. If you don’t think so, let’s consider today’s text for Lenten reflection. Romans 6:1-11:

6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

As perverse as it may seem when stated so plainly as in the first verse of our text, it does seem that sin is not such a big deal to many people, including believers. We have come to accept the fact that we are not perfect, so we too easily draw the conclusion that grace will cover the problems we may cause by continuing to sin–just a little bit, in a very controlled way, in some little corner of life where no one else will be affected. Have we become so accustomed to the pacts that we have made with nagging yet momentarily pleasurable habits or attitudes that we play easily and comfortably on a cheapened grace?

Lent is indeed the time to identify those little agreements we have made with ourselves. Having named them for what they really are, we are encouraged to confess and renounce them. But it’s seldom a one-time decision. We have to remind ourselves repeatedly that the things which belong to a dead way of life are really that–things that do not lead toward the life we have waiting for us, but away from it. But we will seldom find success in the attempt if we do not fill our minds with the other side of Paul’s stark contrast. There’s a life to embrace, not just a death to relinquish.

Sometimes I wonder whether we spend too much effort in fearing (and falling into) the sinful ways, the destructive ways, and too little time seeking the ways of real life–the resurrection style of life, where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (you know the list!) rule. Maybe it’s only by pursuing these things that we gradually come to see the futility of the old ways and attitudes. It sounds like Paul’s encouragement in Phil. 4, doesn’t it?

Some of us are better at this than others. Maybe some readers have found helpful ways of turning the focus from everything that’s wrong in self and others (mostly others?) to looking for ways to advance the true, the good, and the beautiful. If so, please share them.

2 thoughts on “Embracing Life

  1. Of course positive thinking doesn’t come naturally especially when we are going through trials or when we’re having a bad day. It is especially hard for me behind the wheel of my car!! (Where my most un-Christian behavior comes out!) I’m just a work in progress trying everyday to do the right thing and live the life Jesus died to give me. For me, spending time in God’s word EVERY day, even for just a few minutes, is the only way to keep a positive attitude throughout the day. It helps me when I start my day off reading a daily devotion or a Bible verse, anything focusing on God, not self. When I do this I have greater joy throughout my day and find it a little bit easier to smile more, feel loved and pass that love to others. Life on Earth was not made to live without God! We have so much power from God, if only we took the time to draw from it! “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of POWER, LOVE and self-discipline! 2 Tim. 1:7

  2. ….I wonder whether we spend too much effort in fearing (and falling into) the sinful ways…and too little time seeking the ways of real life–the resurrection style of life….

    This is a beautiful revelation!!

    Jesus doesn’t focus on what is wrong – sure, He brings attention to it – but not focus. However, the way he brings attention to it is not by pointing fingers or accusing – but speaking to the root of the issue in the heart.

    We too, need to hear His voice clearly and respond when realizing the needs we (and others) have – the needs that only Christ can meet, in doing so – the ‘wrong’ will be uprooted.

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