28 April 2016

Romans 14:7-12

"We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves." (v.7)

Psalm: Psalm 81


What does it mean to "live to ourselves"?

What Christians call original sin is the state into which all people are born. It can be described as saying that we are born with a self that seems to be the centre of our existence. We interact with the world while remaining centred in this self. Having this self that seems to be the vital heart of our existence, we feel compelled to look after it. We defend it if it is threatened, further its interests, nurture it, expand and develop it. It makes perfect sense. Who will do this if not us?

The incomprehensibly radical message of Jesus is that we don't need this self. We can let it go. Accordingly a Christian can spend a lifetime trying to 'de-centre' from this seemingly essential but in reality quite illusory self.

But if we do not live to our 'selves' how do we live?

In the leap of faith into what seems like the abyss of death, we find ourselves reborn and centred in God. There we also find ourselves joined at the deepest level to all of God's children, safe where we were always meant to be.

Then our old selves will die, but we will not. We will live on in eternal love.

To Ponder

  • How do we stop living 'to ourselves'?
  • In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins proposes that self-interest is the guiding principle of all life. Does that mean that the Christian way is 'against the laws of nature'?

Bible notes author

Dave Webster

Dave Webster works for the Connexional Team as internet communications coordinator. He is responsible for this website and other internet-based projects for the Methodist Church.