Wednesday, April 6, 2011
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1-11 (excerpt)
As humans we stand often stand condemned in two ways. We choose to live a life of excess, one in which we seek our own pleasure and happiness above all else. We purchase all the material items we desire. Ignore the plight of the poor and downtrodden. Pursue our physical pleasure without giving thought to emotions and others. Lead addictive and destructive lifestyles, dependent on substances or unhealthy relationships. We seek our way first and all else can follow. We are a sinful people. But we also may choose to live a life of bondage, one in which we construct safe walls and fast rules so that we know for certain the ledge upon which we must walk and teeter precariously…in order that we ensure the good life and one in which our goodness matters most. From this ledge, we gaze condemningly at others if they have not or do not choose to abide by our laws. Perhaps our pleasure does not matter as much as we shuffle along, but our self-righteousness permits us, we think, to set the bar for others. With our laws, we have chosen the higher way and should we see others around us deviate, we may be compelled to make their stumbling known.
In either case, we choose. We place our minds on pleasure which leads to a life of consumption, abuse, excess, and ungodliness. Or on rules and protecting ourselves and condemning others which leads to a life of unforgiving legalism. Both of these catch us in death. In neither sin nor the law will we find life. And, neither one of the options are exactly what God intends for us. Instead, God places Christ before us and the Spirit in us and says, “Off you go! Be free in the righteousness I have worked out for you. You are free from the bondage of pleasure-seeking and from the bondage of your own good works, neither of which will work out all the well for you in the end.” Rather than continuing to limp along on our terms, God has accomplished for us life through the death of Christ. Ironic. And he gives us freedom in his resurrection. Victory.
Go then, be free, brother and sisters, looking not for the next moment wherein you can be instantly satisfied or a time when you can knowingly point your finger at the lapses of another. Be free in what Christ has done for you and in you. Choose today to set your mind on that which gives life to you and others. The alternative is far darker than we can imagine.
Our God, I confess today my propensity to either live in sin or point and judge. I ask today for your Spirit to fill me so that I may be a source of life and light. Remind me that I do not stand before you condemned but redeemed because of the resurrection and the Spirit’s work.
Jennifer L. Aycock is a freelance writer for McCormick Theological Seminary. She is currently completing her M.Div. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.