Dead and Alive   

   In the old western movies and TV shows, crime was a way of life. Famous outlaws like the James brothers or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were well known in their times for robbing trains and banks and eluding the law. As a result, it was quite common that the lawmen would indirectly recruit bounty hunters to catch these  criminals, posting fliers with the bandits’ pictures and with a reward for their capture, dead or alive.

   Many outlaws like these were indeed captured, tried, and hanged, or they were killed in a gunfight. Their capture and death ended the crime sprees, but the loss of life was great. For them, the justice system did nothing to reform and restore; rather it sought merely to punish. Such is the fallibility of the laws of men. There comes a point when they are no longer concerned with what is good, but instead with what is fair.

   The human condition is marked by these crimes against humanity and God. We cheat, steal, lie, and kill, whether in body or in soul, and we try to evade the consequences that come for us. The truth, however, is that those consequences cannot be escaped. Death comes for us all. We can either be massacred by it in body and soul as if we are walking through the gates of the OK Corral, or we can embrace it in our innermost being so that we can be raised to life by it.

   Those who continue to live in sin will die in it. All that awaits them is the smoking gun of the law. Death will take the body, and the soul will die eternally in Hell. What of those who embrace death, not as an entity, but as an experience necessary for new life? “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

   In the case of believers, the hangman’s noose is reserved, not for our necks but for our sin. For Christ in His crucifixion put to death sin and death as entities, so that they might no longer have power over us. If we have been baptized into His death, then we are free from their shackles. Those who are baptized into His death are also raised with Him into newness of life. No longer are we the thieves, murderers, and adulterers we used to be. We have new life in Christ Jesus to live in freedom, overcoming the powers of sin and death.

   This is the promise that is made to all who believe: that our old ways will pass away, and that we will be transformed by the renewal of our minds in order to walk in light and life. As we  celebrate this Easter season, remember who it is that has died and was raised, and remember that He has called us to die and be raised as well. We must be the people he has called us to be. For we are wanted, Dead and Alive.

 

Your Servant in Christ,
Pastor Ryan