1 So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? 2 Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? 3 Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. 5 If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his.
On some level, it’s kind of surprising Christianity ever became a world religion. I mean, consider that Jesus called his disciples to “take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Consider this passage too, which promises resurrection, but not without a death first!
This is a hard message to hear. We want resurrection and new life. All that sounds really good. We don’t particularly like the idea of a death, though. That sounds painful. And messy.
But there can no new life without the death of the old life, just in the same way that last year’s garden must be turned over in order to make way for the new one.
The Christian faith is not something we graft on or append to the existing structure of our lives. It instead replaces that structure. It requires a new heart, a new spirit, and new ways of thinking about God, ourselves, and others.
Sometimes the deaths of our old structures and beliefs – what we might call our own crosses – are the result of personal tragedy, or the loss of jobs or relationships. Sometimes the crosses enter in through crises of health or addiction. Sometimes we literally put ourselves on the cross through our own moral or ethical failures.
Still, the scripture is clear on this point: if we want to be united in a resurrection like his, we must first be united in a death like his. There’s no way around it!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever faced a crisis that in retrospect led to a rebirth or resurrection in your life? Do you remember how you felt as you were going through it? What would you tell someone who is going through a crisis like this right now?
Prayer: Creator God, we know you hold the power of life and death and resurrection in your hands. Jesus teaches us that we need not fear the cross, because we are Easter people who trust the promise of the empty tomb. Breathe new life over all the dead places in us, that we might rise with Jesus in a resurrection like his. Amen.