S (Scripture): Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage. 3 So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress. 4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.
O (Observation): Paul uses a very practical image to help make a deep, theological point: being joined to Christ’s death releases us from the enslavement to the law, just as a husband’s death releases the wife from her bond to her marriage. (That’s from 2,000 years ago, folks…today’s example would likely be different.)
Before Christ’s death, we were bound to the enslavement of the law. An external set of rules guided the lives of God’s people, and so they started seeking salvation within the laws and rules of the people. That wasn’t working.
So, God sends Jesus to free us from the human-made laws and to help us follow the Spirit in this new-found life. Our joyful obligations now come from serving the Lord through the guidance of the Spirit.
A (Application): What are we to do with all of this news and division in our country? We want to fight and fight and win for “our side.” Yet this seems to be a struggle that does NOT bear fruit. The text from Paul today makes this fairly clear: play by the rules of the law, unto death; play by the rules of the Spirit, unto life. (OK, that’s archaic language…but a fair use of “unto,” yes? : )
Getting into arguments that are tit-for-tat gets us nowhere. Responding to tweets and FB posts in anger or with emotion only doesn’t change anyone’s minds. And it plays into the system set up for the old way of the “law.” The law requires fairness, yet can also be manipulated for personal benefit. The Spirit, however, seeks to bear fruit that is life.
Life-giving actions and attitudes are what Christ gives us. We are freed from the tit-for-tat world of tweet and FB battles. I’m not saying we can’t have some open communication, but rather, let us seek to build up, rather than tear down.
Don’t like the direction our country is going? Don’t just blame the President or the national government…get out and make a difference in your community. Go volunteer! Show how God has released you from the law and how God works though you for good.
Are there refugees in your city? Find out how to help them get settled and familiarize them with how to pay bills and get groceries.
Homeless people live in your community. How can you help them with food and clothing?
The list is endless. Make a difference. Don’t just fight online battles that change nothing. Instead, help your neighbor. Give life, don’t just snuff it out. Awaken to the life that the Spirit gives. And share that life with others.
P (Prayer): Lord, helps us to give life to others, just as you have given us a new life. Amen.