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From Sin To Sunrise
by Katie Borden
Here’s my #HotTake today:
I think our culture is obsessed with circumventing death.
We have everything from eye creams to elective surgeries at our disposal to attempt to trick ourselves into believing that our bodies are not aging, that our days are not numbered, and that we will not be mastered by death. But eventually we will all come to understand that, in a world mired in sin (and therefore also brokenness and decay), death will come.
And yet, as much as we cognitively know this to be true, somewhere deep inside, we still cannot accept that death comes. Instead, we seize control of whatever we can, believing that we are in charge. I see it all around me (and frankly, if I’m honest, within me), and I suspect you may, too. And for many in our culture, that involves controlling the narrative around death—because if we do not have an answer for what comes after death, what hope is there in the face of death?
My seminary classmates and I have recently been studying the gospel in the context of leading and pastoring well during a Christian funeral. Part of our discussion has surrounded how we might shepherd people toward a gospel understanding of death and resurrection in a culture that seems to be unable to face death. I found myself experiencing, as I often do, great gratitude for the Scriptural truth we include in our funeral liturgy (from this passage of Romans!): “…if we have been united with him [that is, Christ] in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
The beautiful gospel truth is that Jesus has an answer for what is past death. And in this passage, Paul is encouraging the believers to live not only like Jesus changes things after our earthly death—he changes things now!
Do you know how he changes things in us now?
Yup. Paul says it right in the passage. We die to sin. We were “buried with him in baptism” in order that we might live the eternal kind of life. That eternal kind of life begins now, and will be fulfilled when the kingdom comes in its fullness. Which means…because we have died to sin through Christ (thanks be to God!), we are dead to the consequences of sin. We will live again. Death does not have the final word.
Nor does sin! We are not under the mastery of sin any longer, even in this world! And while we may not realize the full effects of this life-changing work of Christ until kingdom come, we are beginning to see the workings of it in our lives even now, like we see the glorious rays of light arching into our lives as the sun rises, promising us that we will feel the brightness of the sun shine on our face in all its glory as, very soon, it will reign high in the sky.
And the gloriousness of the sunrise doesn’t even come close to the majesty and beauty of the truth of the resurrected Christ.
Thanks be to God that by his grace, in his glorious resurrection we live, too.
Good and gracious God, we thank you that, in Christ, we are dead to sin--set free from it, and raised to life in Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to continue to live into the fullness of life that is offered through your grace and power. Amen.