Reflections: July 20, 2021

Tuesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

By Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Romans 6:19-23
Daily Lectionary:
1 Samuel 3:1-21; Acts 16:1-22

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Only someone who has spent all their life under slavery can be set free and ask, "What do I do now?"  If you don't know what freedom really looks like, how would you know what to do when you're free?  Only someone born under the threats and coercion of the Law can imagine that "freedom" looks like Netflix and a whole tub of ice cream just because serving your neighbor can be hard sometimes. What do you really gain from the bottom of the ice cream tub? What hope is found in ignoring your problems to binge-watch junk?  I am speaking to you in human terms, because of your natural limitations.

You are free from the Law's demands. It cannot condemn you in Christ Jesus your Lord. You have the free gift of God, eternal life, purchased by His death upon the Cross. When you return to pet sins, Jesus still died for you, your sins are still bled for and forgiven. That's not the question. The question is "Do those things actually help?"  When we get stressed or angry, scared or just bored, we go looking for hope in something familiar, and we return to the things that held us captive. Real hope is never found there, though.

Christianity is not asking the question, "Can you do whatever you want?" Instead, the question is "Where is hope which endures?" Christ endured death and rose again. Hope in something that leads to holiness and eternal life. Hope in something that isn't just numb. Everyone's owned by something. Either we're owned by our passions and our sins and we're not free to rise above them and build something that's more than comfortably numb, or we're owned by the God who purchased us with His own life so that He can keep us and shelter us now and to eternal life. One leads to death. The other to life.

The free gift of God, eternal life, is given only to sinners. It's given to you. You don't have to earn it. You're free from sin. Free from death. Allowed to ask, "What do I do now?"  It's answered by the God who simply says, "Live." Live in the things that produce hope. Live in the Law of God, free from its curse, because you were made alive in the Gospel, which promises that hope is a gift, not an escape. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

No son of man could conquer death, Such ruin sin had wrought us. No innocence was found on earth, And therefore death had brought us Into bondage from of old And ever grew more strong and bold And held us as its captive. Alleluia! ("Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" LSB 458, st.2)

-Rev. Harrison Goodman is the pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX. 
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.

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