The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Romans 6:1-11, the apostle lays out the idea of baptism’s effect for us. He compares it to being buried and raised again from the dead. The exception is that, in Paul’s view, we were dead before we were buried in baptism. We are brought forth alive.
The plain meaning of this passage is difficult for modern Western Christians to grasp. We have often been conditioned to think that the reality of the Christian life consists of internal impressions, thoughts, feelings, and the desire of a heart. We have so internalized spirituality as to discount any of the biblical statements about physical activities having an effect on our spiritual state. Yet that is precisely what Paul is describing here.
The Christian has been laid to death with Christ in baptism. The Christian has been raised from the baptismal waters in new life. We have died to sin and are now alive to Christ. Because we have been baptized we have no permission from God to live in sin. We are required to live for Jesus, not for ourselves.
In this passage, Paul consistently uses the first person plural. He talks about how “we” have been buried with Christ in baptism, how “we” have been raised to newness of life, how “we” live in Christ, not in sin. The apostle himself is part of “us.” The struggles that we face as we consider how to live for Christ and die to sin are the same as the struggles he faces. Yet we face them together, knowing that Jesus is the one who can raise the dead. He has given us this very concrete gift of baptism to demonstrate that we are his people.
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