In the reading from Romans, Paul talks about our freedom from sin. Sometimes we think freedom means our ability to do whatever we want, to not have someone telling us what is right from wrong or how to live our lives. I remember similar feelings when my parents would limit my “freedom” by imposing a time to be home, making me go to church regularly, and compelling me to follow many other rules. I didn’t understand the protection and foundation these things were instilling in me. Now - much later in life, I can look back and see that following their rules helped me in ways I didn’t understand at the time. And, they made it possible for me to learn life lessons and escape some real pitfalls.
What Paul says in this reading is similar. Paul is reminding us of what true freedom from sin means for us. It seems to be a conflict, that living life the way Jesus wants us to actually gives us more freedom than living life our way. But, when I look back over my life, I seem to have less stress and more satisfaction when I do live life His way. Jesus’ gift to me is the opportunity to live life His way along with the grace to be forgiven when I fall back into my old ways. Following Jesus protects me, develops within me the strength I need to get through hard times, and helps me to feel compassion for others and to experience joy as I go through life.
Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message explains it in a way that appeals to me. “A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus our Master.” (Romans 6:22-23.)