The ght for freedom from apartheid lies deep and strong in the memory of many people who lived through it. Steve Biko, murdered in September 1977, had been a trailblazer who believed that his people would be freed from oppression only when they were freed in their minds and they started to believe in freedom. He said, “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.” Biko knew he was ght- ing for a new South Africa, a South Africa where there would be opportunity for his children and his children’s children. He would not give up. It is the way of the martyr. It is the way of Christ. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Paul takes up this notion of dying to self and being raised with Christ in his letter to the Romans. It goes beyond theo- logical nicety. He lives almost every day of his Christian life as a man under threat. He has been threatened with death and escapes with his life. He is a man who travels the world pro- claiming the good news of Christ to people who at best have lit- tle understanding, and at worst hate him. So the idea of dying to self holds a certain poignancy, and later he too will be martyred.
In this passage, though, Paul re ects on the nature of sal- vation, on the way in which Christ deals with sin. For Paul, identifying with Christ and dying to self is the key. We come to know the absolute freedom that is born of faith as we die to all that has a hold over us and, in the process, come to know the joy that is born of new life, resurrected life, life in the Spirit of Christ. This is true freedom—to live for a good cause and to die to all else. What greater cause exists than to follow Christ?

Almighty God, who through the mystery of the cross and res- urrection brings the gift of eternal life, grant us the courage to die to self so we may rise with Christ to the joy of your eternal kingdom. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 10:24-39

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Lectionary Week
June 19–25, 2017
Scripture Overview

Implicit in the story of Hagar and Ishmael is the threat to Isaac and to God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah. The psalmist captures the terror by unnamed forms of destruction that may threaten an individual or people. Paul raises the specter of that most universal threat—death—but does so within the context of the new life won by Christ’s resurrection. Matthew describes various ways in which the enemies of Jesus threaten his disciples because of their association with him.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 21:8-21. When have you felt burdened and outcast? What was your experience of God’s hearing you where you were?
• Read Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17. Do you pray in the confidence that God hears and will answer your pleas? If not, how could you learn to pray in that manner?
• Read Romans 6:1b-11. Paul speaks of dying to self and rising with Christ. How has your Christian faith given you a sense of freedom from sin?
• Read Matthew 10:24-39. What makes God’s presence real to you? How does God’s intimate knowledge of you—the number of hairs on your head—make you feel?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.