Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore 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.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We 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. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
When I opened my bible to read Romans 6:3-11, my eyes went not to the text but to the note “hmmmm?” I’d written in the margin. Trying not to be intimidated by my past confusion, I read Paul’s words to the church in Rome which led me to another “hmmmm?” So I read some verses before, looked at the notes in my bible and read the passage again. Still hmmmmm.
Sometimes when scripture overwhelms me, I’ll practice a self-lead Lectio Divina, looking for words or phrases that jump out at me and then pray about their significance. Reading the text a third time, I was drawn to “baptism”…”united”…”dead to sin and alive to God”. Ahhhh, now I had a sense of where God was leading me.
He was leading me to a different way of thinking about why Jesus died. I tend to define Jesus love for me by his willingness to die on the cross. But Paul invites me to consider my connection to Christ from his baptism to his death and on to his resurrection. Jesus’ love for us and for God fueled him through his life to his afterlife. If I can stay focused on love, like Jesus, I won’t let sin define me. I will be alive to all that God has to offer.
Now, there’s a good chance when I read this scripture again, I’ll be lead down a different path. There’s also a good chance my first reaction will be hmmmmmm. But that’s what I love about the Bible. Each story, each text, holds new and evolving truths for me each time I read it. I encourage you to re-read the text for today and see where God leads you.
Prayer: I know you are with me in my tragedies and my triumphs. You are with me when I struggle and when I soar. Your love knows no ends, Lord. Thank you for sending your love to us in your son, Jesus Christ.
(For more about Lectio Divina, come to the Prayer Pathways class on Monday night at 6:30 pm in H-4.)