Romans 7:1-21 uses the analogy of marriage to explain the shape of the Christian life. Before you marry, you live under the guidelines of someone else – perhaps your parents, your workplace, guidelines you and a roommate set up. But in marriage, we embark on a new journey of life in which our life is to be patterned on being a partner, spouse, and friend to our beloved.
Our life is full of such transitions – from student to worker; from free as a bird young person to responsible parent.
Baptism (or, for many, confirmation) marks a shift in our lives too. Whereas before our relationship with God may have been defined by a set of rules like the 10 Commandments, the Laws of Moses, or a set of religious rules designed to instill in us a set of right and wrong, of the sacred, now that has changed.
Now we are to relate to God in a personal way, not by rules, but by personal devotion like a person to their spouse, or to their friend, with love and care.
We are to relate to others in a way that is beyond what religious law can facilitate, as if in them we can encounter God looking back through their lives, recognizing the sacredness each person bears.
We need to relate to God’s creation not based on just rules but as a work of God that is sacred and wonderful, not to be spoiled or abused.
We need to relate to ourselves as bearing the image of God, not deserving to be used, abused, or put down but honored as bearers of the sacred.
If we learn to do this, we will do no harm. More than that, we will work to do good for ourselves, for our neighbors, for the earth, even for those who treat us like they are our enemies. Against such a way of relating no law worth following can ever be written, and if we treat all like this we will both honor God and fulfill the purpose of the religious laws we learn as children – even in those moments that loving spirit leads us to bend or disregard certain letter of the law rules as Jesus did.
May we discover this way of spirit, of loving as Jesus loved and living as Jesus lived.