Many years ago (1993 ?), a movie was made depicting the development of the Jamaican bob-sled team. One of the more famous lines from “Cool Runnings” comes after an epic crash, “Sanka, you dead man?” Sanka replied, “Yeah man.” I think of that line when I study Romans 6. Paul wrote, “We died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” One believer can ask another, “Are you dead?” And the honest response can be, “Yes, but I live!” The Christian life is about living! The gospel is about more than dealing with sin; it is about receiving life! The gospel is “the Father’s provision of new life in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.” This new life is a gift from God, made possible through the grace of Christ and received by faith. But, the full enjoyment of the life requires diligence, practice and some fighting! The fight is because our body still has temptations and propensities to sin. Sin robs us of the life God wants us to have. In fact, the consequences of giving in to temptation are so serious Paul referred to them as death. However, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We have a very important part to play in the enjoyment of and participation in that life. And, we have all we need to get on with it!
Have you graduated yet? Have you moved on to the next grade? Are you in the upper levels of your spiritual formation? I’m not. Combining our text in Romans this week with James 1:2, I’m reminded that I have some room to grow. Paul wrote that we “glory in tribulations,” and James wrote, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” I don’t. I really don’t like trials or tribulations. I don’t like inconvenience or discomfort. Our culture is working around the clock to remove trouble from our lives attempting to guarantee us all life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, these annoying troubles keep popping up. Cold weather. Sickness. Financial troubles. Family dysfunction. Disease. Chipmunks. Was something wrong with those writers of Bible verse or is there something wrong with me? I really do think it is me. I am still learning that trouble is normal in this world and it cannot be eliminated no matter what we do. But, since God is good and He loves us, He turns evil to good! He can do things with the junk in our lives that we never imagined possible. Using the trouble, God can expose weaknesses and life-sucking problems that will ruin our lives if they remain. When we join Him in “turning this mess into something beautiful,” we’ll begin to see how rejoicing is possible. If we could only see that on the front end of our troubles rather than after they are over. Do you want to try it with me? Shall we rejoice in our tribulations believing that God has something incredible that He wants to do in us? Let’s try. It has to be better than complaining about everything.