Shout for Joy
Romans 5 closes with the truth that God’s grace has brought eternal life to all who believe (v. 21). Now we face the “so what” of believing faith. Since we are saved by the grace (“unmerited favor”) of God what are we to do or be as a result? The following verses answer that question without hesitation. Here is the logical sequence in verses 1-4: We are not to continue in sin because when we were “baptized into Christ” we became “one with him in death.” Then we were “buried with him” and just as he was “raised from the dead” we too are to “begin living a new life” (NJB). The point is that dead people don’t continue to live as they used to.
Now the question is: What does that new life look like? The obvious answer is that since we are dead to sin we ought to look like the One who never sinned. That seems like an impossible goal, but remember it doesn’t say we should in fact match his spiritual attainments. Paul is not saying that anything less than sinless perfection is unacceptable. He is calling on us to begin taking on a Christ-like approach to all of life. In so doing I don’t have to suppress my own personality but allow it to express exactly what it means for a person like me to be alive in Christ. It is who He is, living through, who I am (in terms of my personality and gifts). God wants us revised not replaced.
Here are some qualities in Jesus’ life that stand out:
He was kind. On the outskirts of Nain, Jesus met a funeral procession on its way to bury the young son of a widow. Moved with compassion, he reached out and touched the coffin and the dead son came to life and was returned to his mother’s arms (Luke 7:11-17). No, we don’t need to raise the dead; but we need to be kind to all, especially those in times of sorrow.
He was joyful. He told his disciples that when they were cursed for following him they were to “leap for joy” (Luke: 6:23), and Jesus certainly would not expect of others something foreign to himself.
He was determined. In the last period of his ministry Jesus “set out for Jerusalem determined to carry out his role” (Luke 9:51). What has God planned for your life? Do it! His role was difficult beyond comprehension (going to the cross to for the sins of the world) but he did it.
Many more of Jesus’ exemplary qualities are discussed in a recent book, The Good News Dictionary. Among them I point out the following (and more):
He was obedient
He was humble
He was true to his convictions
He was unconventional
He was prophetic
He maintained his priorities
He was righteously angry
He was sensitive
He was unafraid
He was wise
He was understanding
He was empathetic,
and, using the only words he spoke of himself,
He was “gentle and humble.”
It is clear how we are to live, is it not?
Robert H Mounce