If you’re reading this, you are no doubt alive. I’m glad of that! Today’s message reminds us that we were once dead in sin before we became aware of God and formed a life-giving relationship. Paul narrates in his book of Romans (6:1b-11) how our pre-Christian life was one of sin and therefore of spiritual death.
We are reminded as God’s children that we are to walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:4). The idea is that just as Jesus was raised from the dead so also are we participants in God’s life-giving salvation. The gist is also that we are no longer slaves to sin, although we are in no way free from all sin. We can still choose to sin in a myriad of ways.
One of the great aspects of being a Christian is that we are alive with Christ. This is not to disparage physical life, but life in the Spirit is the highest form. We can also rejoice in that spiritual death no longer has a claim on us. God has given us new lives and we rejoice that the only thing we are dead to is the condemnation of sin.
Do you feel spiritually alive? Sometimes it’s not easy to sense it. We go to church, talk about God, sing hymns, participate in communion, and perform many religious acts as part of our church experience. Yet we also know that true spirituality involves much more than outward adherence to the forms and structures of institutionalized Christianity. What God wants us most to become is spiritually alive, from the inside out. What we think and act will then be a natural outgrowth of who we truly are after God has enlivened us.
On the one hand, we have a body that is caught up in material existence and therefore subject to death and destruction. On the other hand, we are designed to be spiritual beings and our individual souls need something more than just food calories for nourishment. Part of our spiritual awakening involves making changes to the ways we think and behave. We’ll never be perfect, but we must strive for those choices that best demonstrate God’s love and truth.
The conflict between flesh and spirit seems constant, but the two don’t always have to be in opposition to each other. God designed us to be physical beings and there can be great pleasure in living a material existence; there can also be great suffering. Ultimately, it is only in spiritual matters that we can seek the redemption of who and what we truly are. We will be disillusioned if all we cling to is rotting flesh. Only the body withers! Our souls are wonderfully imperishable and not subject to the type of decay common to material things. God’s essence is spirit, and that is why we worship God in spirit and in truth. Love holds it all together and builds that eternal bridge between this life and the next.
Our choice is to choose God and to help others find redemption through our living of the gospel message. If we are truly dead to sin, then we will seek spiritual sustenance from God’s love, mercy and grace. My prayer is that we will all be awakened and enlivened through the power of God’s Spirit. All the changes we’ve discussed about renewing our church can come positively, organically, and unforced—if we are immersed in God’s Spirit. Join me as we plan for a bright future demonstrating our new lives in Christ.
–Reverend Larry Hoxey