For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. (Romans 6:4-8 NLT)
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23 NLT)
When do you worship? I think most people who are Christians would respond by giving the time of their Sunday morning gathering. They might even respond by talking about the time when they are singing during that gathering. For some reason we want to compartmentalize our worship to a specific time and place. We want the freedom to do what we want with the rest of our time. I don’t think this is a new issue and Paul addresses it very directly in this chapter.
There are many analogies used to describe what happens when we are baptized. Paul chooses to describe baptism as a picture of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. I was baptized as a child. I grew up in a Christian home and I don’t think I understood until much later in life the bondage to sin that existed in my life. Regardless of the age when we were baptized, I think that most of us who grew up in the church have a hard time understanding what is really happening during our baptism.
In the spiritual world something very dramatic has happened, while in the physical world very little has changed. It is true that we have been joined to Christ at the moment of our baptism, but it takes a lifetime to grow into that reality. That process is what Paul describes in the rest of the chapter and I think it relates directly to worship.
In the physical world we are still making choices about who to be a slave to. Most of us don’t think this way. We believe that we are in charge of our life, that we are slaves to no one. Worship at its core is bowing down to something and submitting to its authority over us. We are all a slave to something. When we make the unconscious choice to be in charge of our lives for all but a couple of hours on Sunday, we have chosen to serve another master. It is hard to switch masters for two hours on Sunday morning. The practical reality is that two hours on Sunday morning cannot overcome the distance that develops between God and me during the rest of the week when I try to serve two masters.
Think of it this way. While I am worshipping self during the week I’m traveling south down a road. If I go 10 miles a day, I will be 60 miles away by the time Sunday arrives. On Sunday when I turn my focus to God for two hours I turn around and walk north. Let’s be generous and say that I walk one mile north during this time. The result is that I’ve still gotten 59 miles further away from God and that distance increases every week.
There is a very clear solution to this problem. I surrender myself to God, bow down to Him, and let Him be in charge. I choose to follow Him. When I do this my day to day activities begin more and more to lead me closer to God. I’ve changed my direction. Regardless of how far I am from God, every moment of every day I’m moving closer to Him and becoming more like Him.
This is why I believe that worship is an attitude that must govern my life 24/7. This doesn’t mean that what happens on Sunday morning isn’t important, because it is. I just think Paul understands the temptation of trying to isolate God to only a portion of my life. It doesn’t work.
For my grandchildren:
Remember that everything you do you do as a child of God.
Check out mygrandmatime for more Family Bible Activities on the book of Romans.