Reflections on Romans, Week 1
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8
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Who are you willing to die for? Would you say, maybe, your family? Your husband or wife, your kids, your brothers and sisters? How about your students, your fellow teachers, or your friends? What about your neighbors or the oppressed in the world?
What are you willing to die for? Would you say you’re willing to die for your country, your state, your community? How about your ideals; are you willing to die for a cause greater than your own? At Confirmation our young people pledge that they’d rather die than give up their faith. Are you willing to die for your faith?
It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? Probably not the kind of thing you like to think about in the morning (if that’s the time you’re reading this, I’m sorry for the heaviness so soon in your day). It’s probably not the kind of question you ponder much in life. Life has routines and challenges of its own, so worrying about the sort of things above is, well, just not really on our radar.
But Paul brings the question to the forefront in today’s reading from Romans. The fact is, that honestly, not many of us would be willing to give up our lives for another. We’d like to say we’d give up our lives if it meant saving the lives of our loved ones. It’s possible, we guess, that we’d sacrifice our lives for a genuinely good person if it came to that. But for weak, worthless, sinners? Probably not so much.
The heart of the powerful Gospel is this simple message: “Christ died for sinners.” That’s you and me. He exchanged His life, breath, body and blood for ours on the cross. He was executed in the place of guilty sinners before the judgment seat of God. He did so, not because you’re good or worthy or deserving, but out of His love for you in your weakness. We have missed the mark and failed the test of God’s good plan for His human creatures. Yet Christ has chosen to die for you to exchange His heavenly eternal fate for your deathly one.
This is a great mystery. The greatest of all mysteries, in fact. That God would love us so much to do this for us. But despite the mystery, we stand firm in God’s Word. It’s done and it’s for you, broken and fallen human. It’s now in His forgiving, life-giving Word. It’s forever in His glorious, life-giving Word. And because of this, we go about our days in His joy and peace.
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