Friday, May 9, 2014

Romans 6:3-5 -- On Death and Life, In That Order

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"
Romans 6:3-5

This death-life symbolism is fascinating.  It reminds me of John 12:24: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."  Death has to happen, and I think this is saying that death and life are part of the same process... the process we're all engaged in, the process of improvement.  This of course, doesn't mean that we should all become death worshippers or suicides or murderers.  Just to clarify. :)  I think what it does mean is that we have to see in our lives that part of us has to die so that other parts can live... that we're always in the process of dying and being born again, even over and above the more obvious symbolism of actual physical death and resurrection.  To be resurrected, our current bodies have to die, which can be a quick change or a longer one, but the change has to happen.  To change who we are and to become our best selves, we have to change, repent, become... and what is change but a tiny death of something that we were used to?  Repentance is a tiny death of something that used to be part of us, and it involves a broken heart, which is then healed as God forgives us and makes us as white as snow.  When we are baptized, we are lowered into the "watery grave" as it were, and then raised, clean and pure and new.... free of sin.  When we take the sacrament each week, we renew that same covenant of baptism: the dying of our old, sinful selves, and the raising of our new, clean selves.
I think part of this lesson is that we shouldn't be afraid of death.  Physical death is definitely not something we want to jump into before we're prepared to meet God, of course, but it also isn't the frightening desolation that we imagine.  Especially not the smaller deaths... the death of a habit or a sin or an incorrect belief.  We fear all kinds of change, and sometimes we think that if we change something about ourselves that we will somehow be less "us."  ... But on the other hand, it is incredible freedom and "newness of life" to have the opportunity to choose who we want to be, rather than being trapped in who we are.
Today, let's embrace positive change.  Let's work with God to bring death to the bad things in our lives, and life to the good.  Let's be more and better than we are, and rejoice in the opportunity we have to die to sin and hate and darkness and to live in light and love.

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