Boy, do I ever have an assignment for you who are in the mood to take a challenge. I’ve been fixated in my quiet time this morning on Romans 6:6. Here it is in the NIV:
For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
Some of us have heard that Scripture hundreds of times. Others may not have known the exact place it resided in the Bible but you are more than familiar with the concept of being buried with Christ through His death on the Cross and being raised in His resurrection to walk in newness of life. Others among us (and I hope there are many) may have no familiarity with the concept at all. Raised in church, I’ve heard it since childhood but I’m not sure I have the strongest grasp of it half a century later. Anyway, one thing we all love about the living words of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit can illuminate a different phrase or word within a verse that captures our attention in an altogether fresh way. That’s what happened to me this morning. I got stuck on the first half:
For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ]…
What washed over me was how many of us may not know that. Not the kind of authentic knowing that changes the way the soles of our feet slap the pavement. We know it on the sacred page and we know it as a doctrine of our faith, but I’m not sure the knowing in Romans 6:6 has invaded our lymph-nodes and gone viral in our major organs, spreading from the lobes of our brains to the bones of our feet. Take a look at the second half of the verse again and I’ll tell you why I think that.
…so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
Notice the verse doesn’t say we will no longer sin but that we “should no longer be slaves to sin.” Sister, you can forget perfection here on this planet but do not let anything on this earth convince you that you cannot be free from the mastery of sin. Some of us are giving up and giving way again to an area of bondage that has no right whatsoever to take authority over us.
Dissect the verse again. The full victory in the second half of the verse seems dependent on the first half of the verse. See it? The “we know” leads straight to a “so that.”
We know_____________________ so that _________________…
So, it seems to me there could be a bit of a break down in the system when we actually do not know to the marrow of our bones the very principle that ushers in the living reality of our gloriously powerful and victorious “so that.”
SO, here’s what I thought I’d throw out at those of you who are game this fine day for a challenge. I want you to write a paragraph-long obituary announcing the death of your old self. Get creative with it. Think up a name for your old self. You don’t have to necessarily use dates of birth and death but you can. You can do anything you want with it. Get as descriptive as you want or be as general as you like. Too many rules and too much structure could quench your creativity. Just go at it, Sister.
Glance at some obituaries on the Web to stir up the kinds of metaphors you might want to implement into yours. We’re not going to compare entries to one another. We’re not looking to applaud the ones that sound most spiritual. This is not a writing contest. This is an interactive with one primary goal: to get some Biblical “knowing” a little deeper into our belief system where it merges with our everyday walk.
Listen, there shouldn’t be anything morbid about this exercise. That old person of ours was out to kill us. It is murderous. These obituaries should be some of the best pieces of news we’ve ever heard. It is the Gospel springing to life through death.
Let’s allow the comments to this post to be entirely limited to these Romans 6:6 obituaries. No other verbiage. No other explanation. No other conversation. I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to see what spins from your soul to this page. I am anticipating that the comments will be slower than usual in coming because you’ll need time to think. Take all the time you need! If you’re like me, some of you will want to write yours on a Word document then copy and paste it into a comment. Do it however you like.
But do it, if you’re willing. And may it be healing.
I’m crazy about you guys. Thanks for jumping in!