If you’re reading this, you are alive. I’m glad of that! Today’s message from Romans 6:1b-11 reminds us that we were once dead in sin. Thankfully, by accepting redemption from God we are revitalized and transformed, hence wonderfully empowered creatures with a new lease on life.
We are reminded to claim God’s promises and embrace every moment living in a changed manner, a way of life that sets us apart from mere existence. Paul spoke about this wonderful truth. “. . .[J]ust as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we to might walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4b). As Jesus was raised from the dead so also are we participants in God’s life-giving salvation. We are transformed from death to life, from captivity to freedom. Do you live a life of triumph and joy over death and negativity?
Praise God that we are no longer slaves to sin. However, we can still choose to sin in a myriad of ways. Our God-consciousness pushes back against harmful tendencies and we have more power to both resist and exist without a destructive lifestyle, one that alienates from God. The mighty essence of God—the Holy Spirit—indwells us so that we can overcome any adversity if we do our part and exert the effort. Are you willing to struggle through anything that holds you back?
One of the great aspects of being a follower of God is that we are alive with Christ, God’s great messenger who demonstrated the power of love above all else. Elevating the spiritual side of life need not disparage physical life, but life in the Spirit is the highest form of existence. We can also rejoice because 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 under which we lived prior to our spiritual awakening. Are you rejoicing in your spiritual life?
Sometimes it’s not easy to sense it. We go to church, talk about God, sing hymns, participate in communion, and perform many religious rituals. Yet we also know that true spirituality involves much more than outward adherence to the forms and structures of institutionalized Christianity. God wants us to become spiritually alive, from the inside out. How we think, feel and act will then be a natural outgrowth of who we are as God transforms us. Are you spiritually alive?
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 spirits need something more than just food calories for nourishment. This is why a spiritual awakening also entails changes to all aspects of our holistic existence (emotions, thinking, body and spirit). As each of these four areas of life are recognized and strengthened, we experience holistic renewal, which leads to a life of wellbeing. Can you perceive yourself as a person with many powerful, complimentary attributes?
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 well-managed and disciplined physical life. Unfortunately, there can also be challenges and even suffering. We will be disillusioned if all we cling to is rotting flesh, which is only one aspect of existence. By strengthening the other areas of mind, body and spirit we’ll be better equipped to compensate when another part of us becomes weak. This is one of the great benefits of holistic living. Are you nurturing your total, holistic life and are you building your spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical resilience?
To return to Paul’s emphasis, we are reminded that only the body withers. In contrast, the human spirit is marvelously imperishable and not subject to the type of decay common to physical things. God’s essence is spirit, and that is the chief mechanism through which we are connected with God. Along with spirit, love is like the spiritual glue that binds us, person-to-person and person-to-God. The power of love builds a bridge that can span the great gulf between this life and the next. Are you partnering with God to build and reinforce the bridge of eternal life and love?
The preferred choice awaiting us is to embrace God and to help others find the same redemption that gives us newness of life. If we are truly dead to sin, then we will seek spiritual life by receiving and sharing God’s love, mercy and grace. My prayer is that we will all be awakened and enlivened through the power of God’s redemptive Spirit.
All the splendid changes we’re accomplishing in renewing our ministry are organic and unforced. We are immersed in and united by a shared vision of God’s Spirit. Join me as we share our mission, as we claim a bright future demonstrating our new lives in Christ. Be dead to the power of sin and partner with God as you embrace transformative love. What a great message to spread!
–Reverend Larry Hoxey