We are currently in our church working out what it means to participate in the Victory of God accomplished through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Tomorrow, I will attempt to preach this theme from Paul's explanation of baptism as our union and identification with the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul is saying that in the Gospel event, the cross and resurrection, God has delivered His people, the people of faith, from sin and granted then new people a new life.
This new identity as people delivered from sin and delivered from the problem inherited in Adam is not given solely to Jews and it is not racially bound but is to ALL who believe.
Christians are to have an identity as people delivered from the bondage not of Egypt or Rome or some other political tyranny or slavery but delivered from Sin, the real enemy of our communities and our families.
As a Christian and a father, my children can be raised to understand this Christian identity as those delivered through faith from sin and its system, the world, to righteousness and its "system", the kingdom of Christ. My point in writing this post is two-fold:
1. This message is radical. This message of a people delivered by the covenant keeping creator God is a message that proclaims people of faith to be different. This message invades every area of life. It demands that I reckon this reality so in my thought life, at my dinner table, in my attitudes toward my fellow man and woman, that in everything I am to be morally and spiritually distinct.
2. This message is a message of a radically new consciousness of self. Such an awareness is more caught than taught. Our Christian sub-culture should model this newness in all our saying and doing. For my children to possess this righteous identity that is distinctive and to be able to walk in this awareness requires a culture that models this reality. It is for the sake of my children and their identity people who are kind must be known through a testimony of kindness in our people. For my children to identify a love for all people as their own, we must be a people who love in a manner that is distinctive and all inclusive. For my children to not enter the mind driven by self-preservation, we must be a people who think of others well-being and not our own. Such a proclamation of our identity in Christ calls for radical church renewal.
3. My new personhood in Christ, my new life, is an essential static, immutable, reality. Life itself and my dullness makes living in this reality in the dynamics of life easier said than done. Paul will answer this plaguing dilemma by introducing the need for the Spirit in our daily, dynamic life. Nonetheless, the unchanging foundation of my new identity is as unchanging as the reality of my past baptism and, upon this reality, we build our life of victory.
4. A proper identification with the resurrection of Christ is displayed also in an identification with His suffering. The crux of any display of moral deliverance is in one's response to suffering in this life. The one who is truly delivered from sin is also delivered from the drive to preserve self. To follow after Christ and enter into His life through our identification with His cross and resurrection is to "take up our cross". We are called to display this moral distinction in our ability to love and love while we suffer. This love while suffering is what is impossible in the flesh. Love of friends and fellow-thieves is easy. Even Mafioso's and gangsters do the same. But love of those who get in the way of our quest for personal power and success, this type of love is a daily battle.
So where do we go from here...How did we as a people fall so far from this reality?
Are we to proclaim such a fundamental deliverance and newness through faith in Jesus Christ? Has Jesus Christ set His people free from sin? I believe this is the message of the gospel. How do we go about becoming a people who identify ourselves and truly reckon such a reality to be so.