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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 30, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Romans 6:12–23

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NRSV)

I remember when a seminary classmate once challenged me on my core belief in the expansiveness of God’s grace. He was someone who wore a shirt that said: “Your choice for eternity—Smoking or Non.” Needless to say, he and I had very different perspectives on what motivated us to be disciples, and those differences led to interesting conversations. He wanted to know why, if I believed that the “yes” of God might indeed be the last word for everyone’s life, did I even bother to follow Jesus. If I did not believe I might go to Hell, then why would I make the decisions for faithfulness that I tried to make.

It was a difficult binary perspective for me to wrap my mind around but after talking with him for a while, I came to understand that his primary motivation to live the way he lived was so that he might be seen as faultless before the Lord at the time of his death. And he did not understand my perspective that I lived the way I lived primarily to say thank you to God for loving me and all people. He expressed that gratitude was not strong enough motivation. And yet, I was not (and still am not) all that concerned with what will happen at the time of my death. I trust that God is as good as Jesus said and get on with it.

Another way to put it is that I am trying to live “openly in Jesus’ freedom,” as Paul wrote. It is a choice I have to make every day. Do I live captured by fear or do I live set free by grace? I will always fall off on the side of grace, every single time. What about you?

God of grace and glory, help me to feel enveloped by your grace and your presence this day. Open my eyes to the freedom I do have to live fully in your light. Help me not to give into fear. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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