Sunday, June 25, 2017

Romans 6:1b-11 for today

Dear Sibblings in Christ,
         I hear that some of you wonder at the Grace you’ve received from God through Jesus Christ. But, you wonder in a strange direction, perhaps even you wander, more than wonder—it is as if you are children seeking boundaries, participants in a new game wondering about breaking the rules, or explorers looking for the edge of the map, instead of paying attention to your footing.
         You ask of this Grace, if it is a great thing, because it overcomes Sin, how much greater would it be if we sinned a whole bunch more, so that it could overcome more Sin still?
You may not ask the question exactly like that of course, but you do ask questions like:
-If we’re saved by grace, what’s the point of doing good things?
-If God saves us despite ourselves, why does any of this matter?
-If it’s all about the love of God, why even talk about Sin?

         And when I hear these questions, I wonder at you all. It’s like you’ve waited your whole life for the woman of your dreams, you meet her, and the first question out of your mouth is, “I can cheat on her, right?”
         Dear Lord, what’s wrong with you people?
         Don’t you know you’ve been fused to Jesus?
         It’s like a marriage, all his stuff is yours and all your stuff is his.
         It’s like that famous exchange between Ruth and Naomi, where Ruth refuses to abandon Naomi, but instead says, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
         It’s like the poor disciples in Matthew’s Gospel, “the disciple is like the teacher”... when they say he’s of the Devil, they’ll say that about you too—guilt by association—in this case association with Jesus.
         You’ve been buried with him, you share a grave. His resurrection is your new life, you share life!

         Don’t you get it?
         -Sin and Death made you their slave.
         -You were indebted to Sin and Death.
         … okay, maybe those metaphors don’t work with you all… a couple millennia have passed since I wrote Romans, after all…
Let’s try this one, I’ve watched your “TV” and have seen those ads that make cell phone plans out to be the worst thing ever to happen to humanity… You are so put upon by a wireless contract that you just don’t know what to do with yourself.
Well, you have just such a contract with Sin and Death, there is no way out!
Yet, such contracts only work if you’re alive,
-dead people don’t have cell phone plans
—the contract is considered terminated, when you are.
For that matter, going back to my original metaphors…
-Debts can’t be collected from the dead.
-Slaves can’t be ordered around, if they’ve slipped this mortal coil…
         Still not getting it? Need me to connect the dots for you… okay.

         Have you heard of Jujitsu?
It is a Japanese martial art started during the Samurai era—there was no way for a common person to defeat a heavily armored Samurai by force—the armored combatant always had the advantage as long as it was a question of force.
—but counterforce easily disables the much heavier opponent.
Jujitsu uses an opponent’s momentum and weight against them.
Why rush at an opponent rushing at you, when you can simply step out of the way and they fall down a hole or trip into a wall?
         So too, Jesus uses that inevitable crushing weight and momentum of Death, to nullify this contract Sin and Death has on you!
         In Christ’s death, Death kills all who are found on the side of Christ. And in so doing, they are all freed from the clutches of Sin and Death—the contract is null and void.
         Yes, we lose our life through this baptism into Christ, yet we find it in his resurrection. He has died to sin and now lives to God—and so do you.

         So, to answer your question, “Why not sin more so that there is more grace?”
I say: It is the same reason you don’t talk on the MaBell network, you don’t have a contract with MaBell anymore!
You don’t go around sinning, because you’ve been freed from that relationship with Sin—you are Christ’s disciple now, not a Disciple of Sin!
Q: If it’s all about the love of God, why even talk about Sin?
A: We talk about Sin, because it is worth remembering what you are freed from… just as we Jews, remember I Paul am a Jew among Jews, recount the Passover—we’ve been freed from slavery in Egypt—so too do we Christians tell our story of captivity and liberation.
Q: If God saves us despite ourselves, why does any of this matter?
A: It all matters deeply, because you live in the deep life of God, now. We’re infused with the unending love of God–and it means everything!
Q: If we’re saved by grace, what’s the point of doing good things?
A: You do good because you’re freed for that very task. We have to be slaves to something, let’s be slaves to doing good… It’s in our contract.

         Therefore, siblings in the faith, consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.