Thankfully we were in my neighbourhood and coming close to my house. I was a young teen, maybe 14, and there I was sitting in the car with my uncle sharing the Gospel with him. He was not happy about it at all. He hit breaks, pulled over, and told me to be quiet or get out and walk home (not a really huge penalty since I could almost see my house from where we were). But, it wasn’t the personal threat, it was the rejection of the Gospel that fuelled my response.
When I was a teen I absolutely loved riding my 12 speed down the hill behind the zoo. It was so steep that I could pick up incredible speeds that would make it feel like my body was lifting away from my bike. On one particular day, though, I got brave. I picked up a ton of speed, and started coasting. Then I stood on my peddles and let go of my handle bars with my hands lifted to my sides (back in my day it was called “surfing”). Unfortunately, my front wheel entered a speed wobble. As I was standing up, hands out at my side, I looked down and was horrified to watch my handlebars chaotically turning side to side, hitting my frame. Coasting (particularly while standing on a bike) can be dangerous. Coasting in Christianity can be eternally deadly.
Nerf darts are flying everywhere. I try my best to dash through the area, but I find that the entire church basement is setup like a war zone, filled with grade 6 boys shooting at each other with their nerf guns while playing some version of Capture The Flag. Not too long into the game, suddenly a number of Rubbermaid containers are emptied into a corner, and now “mobile tanks” move past me as a barrage of darts fly past my knees making the containers sound like a set of drums. When the party’s over, while we drive home, my son gets my attention and summarizes his 12 year old birthday party to me. He says, “Best birthday party, every!” Great summary. It’s a lot like the summary we find in today’s text.
I wish it wasn’t the case, but after 30 years I’m still tempted to sin. It’s hard to talk about “the old man” coming back to life because I became a Christian when I was 13. The reality that we are all faced with is our struggle against our sinful nature. Sin is alive and active, making promises to us that it can’t fulfill.
Is it just me, or does it look like the world has been flipped upside down?! People seem to be celebrating things that should be mourned, and shunning things that should be embraced as priorities. Honestly, the Spirit is groaning along with the rest of creation about the current state of decay and sin. The Spirit is longing for the resolution of God’s plan of salvation more than we are. And, the Spirit is helping us to endure while we wait patiently for Jesus’ return and the resurrection.
As a parent of four kids I know that life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. A gruelling, uphill, 24/7, sleepless marathon. Kids learn slowly, grow slowly, and it takes many of the best years of our lives to get them standing on their own. So, as a parent, I think I understand what Paul teaches us in Romans about the marathon of life. Life isn’t a sprint, and some of the more negative moments suck some of the best years from our lives. However, there is a finish line that we’re heading to that makes the marathon worth it…
I used to love Toys R Us when my kids were smaller. Believe it or not, they had no idea that we could buy the toys and take them home. For a short time (too short), they treated it just like another playground. I wish that lasted a little longer because these days I find myself saying, “No,” often when asked to purchase a toy, or an app, or a device. Children carry a significant cost to them, and I need to be grown up enough to know how to manage that cost. Similarly, choosing Jesus carries a significant cost, and I need to be grown up enough to be able manage the cost of my own choice to follow Jesus.