View print-optimized version

Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 6:1b–11         

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NRSV)

Henri Nouwen once observed, “In this success-oriented world, our lives become more and more dominated by superlatives. We brag about the highest tower, the fastest runner, the tallest man, the longest bridge, and the best student. . . . When we have sold our identity to the judges of this world, we are bound to become restless, because of a growing need for affirmation and praise” (Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude). I can think of many examples in my own life where my need for affirmation has led to distorted, even sinful, behavior. I see this in the public life of our nation and world as well.

Nouwen does offer wisdom in how to avoid the sinfulness that comes with clinging to results. He advises us that “to live a Christian life means to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow. . . . In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts” (H. Nouwen, Out of Solitude).

Finding time to separate ourselves from the results-oriented perspective of the world might be more than just a strategy to reduce stress or negativity in our day-to-day; it might be the beginning of dying to the world so that we can rise in the new life that Christ offers us.

Loving God, who came in Jesus Christ so that we might be freed from all manner of sin that binds us, give us the gift of space to breathe; space to be free from the crushing pressures of this results-oriented world. In this freedom, help us to know that we are connected to and grounded in you. Let us live in your freedom, so that we might offer that same space and grace to all that we meet. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email