This whole chapter in Romans talks about sin, but we’re just looking at the first 11 verses. There’s plenty of nuggets here for us to cherish. Since our theme is “Seeking the Kingdom of God,” we may be thinking that we’re looking for a place. Where is the kingdom of God exactly? For purposes of our reflections, it’s where Jesus rules as king. That should be in our lives here and now, just as well as our eternal home in heaven.
Our reading today talks about how the power of sin has been broken. That’s a good thing because our sin is what puts a wedge between us and God. Paul’s words are challenging to understand at first, aren’t they? Paul describes how our lives are changed because of what Jesus did for us. Jesus paid for our sins with his life.
In Baptism, we are united with Christ in his death; “our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ.” In the same way, since Christ was raised from the dead, we have been raised to new life with him. We would never be able to seek the Kingdom of God if we hadn’t died and been raised with Jesus as Paul describes.
If Jesus is now ruling in our hearts, could we say the kingdom of God has come? Yes, indeed! We are subjects in his kingdom, even here on earth. There’s a word for that, “sanctification.” God has chosen to set us apart for his purpose. We can look forward to the day when we will enjoy God’s kingdom in its fullness at the end of our lives here on earth.
In the meantime, we have a purpose. Have you ever asked, “what am I here for?” It’s a question I can remember reflecting on as early as my teenage years. I was a big writer of poetry back then, and as I look back on some of my early works, I’m amazed at the questions I was asking. The question is still hanging in the air, “why am I here?” Have you asked and gotten clarity for your own life? The older I get, I do seem to have a clearer picture of what God is calling me to do. Why? Because I’m doing a better job of listening. The key is in the listening.
God may have been giving us clues all along. Do we find ourselves stuck in our sin or in our striving to do things our own way? Stop and listen for the answer which has been there the whole time. We don’t need to be slaves to our sinful tendencies. “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”
Some might wonder if this gives us a free pass to sin. They are missing the point. All we have to do is remember the brutal death Jesus endured for us to clean the slate of our sin to realize that the more we sin, the more we take advantage of God’s mercy and grace. That certainly doesn’t sound like something I would do to someone I love so completely.
What does Paul mean here? “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” To me, it says that I want to align myself with Jesus and live for him. I want to do what I can to reflect his light in this dark world. If I consider myself “dead to the power of sin,” it gives me the courage to be bolder in my faith. Does that make sense?
Take some time today to think about the depth of this passage and how it speaks to how Jesus is ruling in your life. What is your purpose in the kingdom?
Let’s pray. Father, may your kingdom come! I thank you for the freedom from sin’s bondage you have made possible for me. Help me to be bold in my faith so I can reflect your light in all I say and do. I look forward to the day when your kingdom will be fully revealed in all its glory. Until then, empower your faithful servants. In Jesus’ name. Amen.