What I’m Thinking: It’s Important to Strive

Christians have long wrestled with the idea that, if all sins can be forgiven, people can just do whatever they want. Paul said, “No.”

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome (Romans 6:1b-11). Romans is the most comprehensive of Paul’s letters, the one in which he gives us the widest picture of his thinking and his commitments. Paul wrote Romans to a group of people he did not know. It’s a letter of introduction for a church that he intended to visit, and in a letter of introduction he chose to say as much as he could about what he believed, about what was important, about what was precious in the life of the church.

In chapter five, Paul had talked about what he had come to see as a problem of the ancient gift of the Law to the Jewish people, and the problem was not that the Law was a bad thing. The problem was that the Law had a limit, and the limit was that while the Law would maybe prevent you from sinning, the Law did not offer forgiveness if you had sinned.

It was that forgiveness that Paul found most profoundly in the gift of Jesus Christ.

In chapter six, Paul turns to what is a recurring problem in the Christian Church, that is, that there are people who say, “Well, as long as we are forgiven for our sins, does it matter what we do? Does it matter if we sin? Because if we do, we’ll be forgiven.”

No, says Paul, that is not how it works, because the adoption of the people of the Way, the following of the ways of Jesus: Paul compared that to a death, a death to sin. And so therefore one takes up ways that are not sinful as best as one can. The striving is important.

Now Paul knew, I know, and you know, that there is really very little hope that any of us will make it through our lives without sinning. I, for one, have already left that particular possibility behind. It is those failures, those failures through ignorance, those failures through inattention or error, and yes, those failures through a deliberate choice to set our interests over others: that is what grace is for. Grace comes, forgiveness comes, because we strive and sometimes we fail.

But Paul reminds us here that the striving is also important, to in each moments of our lives to do the best we can to leave behind those selfishnesses, those emphases of our own welfare over others, to place our comfort higher than somebody else’s life. It is important, so important, to strive always to leave sin in its grave behind us.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on June 15, 2020

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