“When we went under the water [in baptism], we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!” — Romans 6:3 (The Message)
We used to live in the “old country of sin.” In that country, sin was our master. We were its slaves. We obeyed sin by doing things that opposed God and God’s good purposes. For those of us who’ve been Christians all of our lives, it’s hard to believe that’s what our lives would be like: that sin would have such dictatorial power to rule whatever we said or did.
Thanks be to God that we don’t live in that “old country of sin!” Instead, we live in the “country of grace.” How is this possible? Because of Christ’s death and resurrection for us and the work of the Spirit in us. Jesus is our Master now. We are his servants and friends. So, we no longer have to obey sin. Rather, led by the Spirit, we obey our Lord Jesus.
Of course, temptation and sin are still able to lure us back to the “old country of sin.” Though sin is not our master anymore, it and its sidekick temptation still have the ability to lead us astray…if we choose to listen to their voices and to obey them instead.
The holy season of Lent is a special opportunity—a forty-day period before Easter—to steel our commitment to follow the lead of the Spirit, to tune out the voices of sin and temptation and listen instead to the Master’s voice and to obey it. When we do that, we stay put in “the country of grace.” That’s our home; that’s where we belong!
We’ll begin the Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday, March 6, at 6:30 PM in the sanctuary (see this website’s front page). With ashes in the form of a cross pressed on our foreheads, we’ll hear the words, “Consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Christ.” It’s a reminder that we have “a new life” in this land of grace.
On this Lenten journey, we encourage you to do things that enhance life in this land of grace: worship the Lord on Sundays; begin or end your day by reading Scripture or a devotional (see the March Tower Talk newsletter on this website to learn more); pray in your car, at work, reading the news, whenever; give sacrificially of your money and time.
However the Spirit leads, I pray all of us will leave the season of Lent more faithful citizens in the country of God’s grace.
Grace and peace,