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. Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Among the followers of the way of Jesus within the house churches in Rome, there were both Jews and Gentiles. The former were also followers of the Torah, the laws of Moses, but the Gentiles were not. Paul’s letter to the followers of the way of Jesus sought to address the conflict between the two groups and to strengthen their faith.
For Paul, faith that leads to baptism is the source of life, linking each of us with all others who have been baptized in Christ in all times and all places. Baptism is the life source of the community of faith. The grace of baptism, the gift of baptism, is that we are put right with God and made righteous. The ritual of baptism happens at a moment in time but living into our new life in Christ is a process, a journey, that takes all of our lives as we grow in love. This is possible because without earning it, without deserving, without having achieved or accomplished anything, by God’s grace, God has called us into new life.
Paul’s challenge to those in Rome and to us is that we need to live more deeply into our baptism – renouncing all that does not proceed from trust in God in Christ, turning away from the evil of all the ism’s of the world which divide and separate the people of God; and turning toward the strength and power of God to carry us in the midst of the anxieties of daily life, the confusion and struggles that face us day by day as we seek to become the people God longs for us to be.
“So daily dying to the way of self, so daily living to your way of love, we walk the road, Lord
Jesus, that you trod, knowing ourselves baptized into your death, so we are dead and live with you in God.” Amen.
Thomas H. Cain, Hymnal 1982 #149 verse 2