Monday, April 12, 2010

Second Sunday in Easter: Rom. 6:1-23: Justified to Life

As we celebrate the season of Easter, we ought to be asking what the resurrection means for our lives. Paul says that the resurrection of Jesus that we ought to live like we truly have been brought back from the grave.

Reckon Yourselves Dead
Paul begins by grounding our Christian identity in baptism and the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:3-11). This means “knowing” (6:3, 6, 9) and “believing” (6:8) and “reckoning” ourselves united to the death and resurrection of Jesus (6:11). This is a question about facts and what is true. Paul says that this has everything to do with Easter. Christ was raised by the glory of the Father, so that we should walk in newness of life (6:4). This means being united to the likeness of His resurrection (6:5), that as He was freed from death, we might also be free from sin (6:6-7). And this means that we are alive in Christ (6:8-11). Paul says that we must know this, believe this, and reckon it true. We died with Christ, and we were raised with Him.

Who’s Your King?
But Paul develops these points with a number of allusions to a very specific story. He says this reckoning has everything to do with who your master is. He says: we should no longer be slaves of sin (6:6). We have been set free (6:7). Just as death is not Christ’s master (6:9), we are to reckon ourselves free from sin, not obeying its lusts (6:12). The great slavery/freedom narrative of the Bible is the Exodus, and Paul goes from passing through the water (6:3-4) to insisting repeatedly that this means we are no longer slaves of Pharaoh but now servants of God and of righteousness. To “present” your members (6:13, 16, 19) is to be stationed for service, to stand in the presence of a king (e.g. Gen. 45:1, Dt. 10:8, 1 Sam. 16:21). This is the same word used to describe Israel standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai after the Exodus (Ex. 19:17). Like the children of Israel, Christians must present themselves to the Lord “as being alive from the dead” and not present themselves to any Pharaoh (Rom. 6:13). Our “members” are clearly our bodies which are to be offered as sacrifices to God (Ex. 29:17, Lev. 1:6, 12, cf. Rom. 12:1-2). And as we offer them as sacrifices, they are to be “instruments,” literally ‘weapons/armor of righteousness’ (1 Sam. 17:7, Neh. 4:11, Rom. 13:12). As Israel marched out of Egypt as Yahweh’s hosts, Christians are to take up their weapons and armor as the army of God.

Turning from sin must always include turning towards righteousness, leaving Egypt and going in to the Promised Land. And this kind of repentance is for life. But we must be freed from sin in order to repent. Jesus came proclaiming this forgiveness (Lk. 4:18), Paul is proclaiming forgiveness in Rom. 6, and we are authorized and commanded to carry on this mission in the world (Lk. 17:3-4, Col. 3:13).

If what Paul says is true, then Christians should be growing more and more alive. We should be characterized by life. What is life? What is it to be alive? This means walking in the Spirit, listening and obeying the Word, and then dreaming big. So frequently we are so preoccupied with Egypt that we miss the Promised Land right in front of us. But Christ is risen, and the whole world is before us.

The resurrection means endless possibilities. It means creation restored, and it means humanity offered life as God always meant it to be. We were made for this.

1. Lead your family in loving God and loving His world. Lead them by loving the particular parts of God’s world that were made for you. Find those spots and dance in them. And love your people and dance with them.

2. Lead your family in enjoying God and enjoying His world. Lead them by being consumed with thankfulness for what you have been given: forgiveness, family, gifts, five fingers on each hand, peanut butter and jelly, and a wife to kiss. Lead your family in laughter. Be the first to laugh and the last to stop.

3. Lead your family in resting in God, and share that rest. Lead them by serving your wife, surprising your family with gifts and outings, and share the peace of Christ with those still in Egypt. Peace is unity, affirmation, and forgiveness.

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