My dad died when I was young. My family rarely attended church, so the most positive in uence in my life was Boy Scouts. I learned to love the outdoors, and I developed skills in many areas: camping, cooking, rst aid, canoeing, and orien- teering. I became a leader, a camp counselor, and camp director before I became a chaplain. Scouting’s ideals shaped me; the Scout Oath and Scout Law remain with me. While rules may con ne, ideals can open us to something greater.
Most of us consider ourselves to be free individuals, mak- ing choices, selecting values. Paul tells us that we are “slaves of sin.” But we have a choice. The second set of opposites calls us to choose freedom or slavery. We may be living as slaves to sin or as free persons living in the righteousness of God—either choice requires obedience. As Christians we nd ourselves ”obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which [we] were entrusted.” We have sat under the “teaching,” which has shaped us—much like my experience with scouting. Paul raises the question as to what we gained from our slavery to sin. What did we nd so compelling?
How has the gospel of Jesus Christ allowed you to over- come the pervasive power of sin? And so Paul moves to examine the third set of opposites: wages versus gifts. We may ask what is the payoff for obedience to God, for commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And Paul tells us: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Notice the distinction between “wages” and “gift.” God grants us the gift of eternal life—a gift so precious we could never earn it. We do not get merit badges for choosing obedience to God. We are invited to follow so that we may know freedom and real- ize the promise Paul speaks of: “The end is eternal life.”

Today I will have a hard conversation with God about obedi- ence and freedom.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 10:28-31

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Lectionary Week
June 26–July 2, 2017
Scripture Overview

Not only is God’s call on Abraham unthinkable, it jeopardizes the long-delayed but now-realized promise. Yet in the end, Abraham’s faith and God’s grace prevail. Psalm 13 is the classic example of a psalm of complaint. It shows that a prayer of complaint is a vigorous, active form of hope in God. Thus the psalm moves from a situation of need to a resolution in joy and confidence. In the passage from Romans 6, Paul juxtaposes three pairs of opposites: sin versus righteousness, freedom versus slavery, and wages versus gifts. For Paul, sin is a power that exceeds the abilities of human beings to contest. Only God is a match for the power of sin. We cannot earn or achieve eternal life; it is a gift from God. Matthew 10 makes a strong claim about the identification of believers with Jesus and, in turn, with God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 22:1-14. We do not often face such demands from God as the one Abraham faced. What hard situations has God called you to? What hard conversations followed?
• Read Psalm 13. The psalmist asks God to pay attention and take his situation seriously. When has that been your request of God?
• Read Romans 6:12-23. When have you felt like a scout earning merit badges for God? How has obedience from the heart helped you reorient your life?
• Read Matthew 10:40-42. What “cup of cold water” might you offer to someone in need?

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.” 

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