When Paul speaks in Romans 6 of becoming incorporate with Jesus Christ so that we die to sin and live to God, I understand this living-to-God as living always related to God, living always open to God, in the act of receiving oneself from God. Living an ecstatic identity, then, is the new kind of identity, the new way of being, which we secure through Jesus Christ. It is a new kind of human nature which shows itself in a just and devout life, which gives us a new mind and a new morality. When we have this sense of ourselves as what we constantly receive from God’s free giving, what do we experience when we experience ourselves? We experience love. We experience this love primarily in terms of receiving ourselves and being ourselves. And when we experience ourselves as a gift, as a free, joyful, and continual gift, we are filled with that feeling which Paul placed first of all in the new life—the feeling of gratitude.(Arthur McGill, “Death and Life,” 51)

I like this account by McGill because it seems to succinctly grasp the truth of what Paul is implying. Paul’s view, according to McGill, is at polar odds with the anthropology we find in Genesis 3, and now exemplified in the world today—self-possessed lives. In other words, sin has caused man to violently ‘take’ what is actually a ‘gift’, life. In so doing man asserts his godness, and now must continue to deny his sustenance ‘from God’, in order to assume his place as his own god. The fall-out is apparent, just look at the world, “out there,” look at your own life, and the struggle (cf. Gal. 5:17) that ensues when you try to submit to the idea of ‘life in Christ’ as gift; our self-possessed life (sin-nature) writhes against such thinking. Even so, life is certainly a gift, life in Christ, that is; what freedom this brings, we no longer have to assert ourselves, now we can freely give of ourselves (of Christ) to others, as we have freely received our lives (and continually so, i.e. not static) from Christ! Amen!

Advertisements