What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:1-11
This is an important text – so important that we begin every funeral service by quoting from it. It captures the shape of the Christian life. We die to our selves in baptism and spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out what that means.
From God’s point of view, it seems that baptism is the end of keeping score. Baptism is the death of the old “sacrifice something to appease God” system. Baptism is being joined to Jesus – his death is our death, his victory is our victory, his presence is our strength.
It seems so simple from God’s point of view.
But for us? This is the journey of a lifetime.
Paul says that we are to “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” To “consider ourselves” means to think about ourselves from a particular perspective. And that perspective is to recognize that a life that is meaningful, purposeful, full, and free can only be found by walking a path in the footsteps of Jesus, who we follow through resurrection to life.
And what does that mean? It means the shape of our lives will always follow the shape of baptism – dying to ourselves, to our agendas, to our desires – that God might raise us up to be the people God designed us to be. Simply stated, this is really really simple and really really hard.
So hard, in fact, that we can’t pull it off forever. At best, we can only do it one day at a time and often there only one moment at a time. Here is how Martin Luther put it in the Small Catechism:
“What does Baptism mean for daily living? It means that our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Let us pray: Dear Lord, make us mindful today of all the ways that we get into own way, all the little shortcuts we take that make the journey even longer, all of our needless strivings that only rob us of the joy of life. We surrender our lives to your will, give us the power to follow as you lead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.