Scripture: Galatians 2:11-21
Key verses: (19-20a) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
Reflection: When we baptize someone in worship, the pastor makes the audacious claim that in baptism we are united with Jesus Christ. Somehow, in the symbolic act of water dribbled onto the bald head of a sleeping baby or the shy head of a teenage confirmation student or the carefully coiffed head of a believing adult, we see the power of the Holy Spirit at work to unite us with Jesus. The sacrament of baptism acknowledges a step forward on the lifelong journey of discipleship.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, he used himself as an example of this audacious claim. Paul has been crucified with Christ and now Christ lives in him. What in the world does that mean? Paul uses the perfect tense of the verb here. It might better be translated “I have been and continue to be crucified with Christ.” This is something that happened in the past and is still shaping the present, still unfolding, still evolving. An old self, with old sins and old weaknesses and old habits and old ideas, has been crucified and continues to be crucified with Christ. And a new self, a self that is like Christ, is now alive.
Many days I am very aware of my old self. I see my own selfishness rise up and lead me. I realize that I see the world through my own judgmental lenses. I admit that I keep saying and doing things that I know are wrong, and I fail to do things I know are right. But I give thanks for the audacious claim of my baptism, that I have been united with Christ in his death and also in his life. It’s a lifelong journey instead of a magic pill or an instant transformation. My old self has been, and continues to be crucified, so that it is Christ who now lives in me.
Prayer: Open the heavens, O God, and pour out your Spirit upon us, that all who have been raised to new life with Christ in baptism may, by word and deed, show forth the risen life of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(prayer from the PCUSA Book of Common Worship, p. 473, #3)
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].