New City Catechism:
What is our only hope in life and death?
That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἑαυτῷ ζῇ καὶ οὐδεὶς ἑαυτῷ ἀποθνῄσκει· ἐάν τε γὰρ ζῶμεν, τῷ κυρίῳ ζῶμεν, ἐάν τε ἀποθνῄσκωμεν, τῷ κυρίῳ ἀποθνῄσκομεν. ἐάν τε οὖν ζῶμεν ἐάν τε ἀποθνῄσκωμεν, τοῦ κυρίου ἐσμέν. (Rom. 14:7, 8 NA28)
For no one of us lives for himself and no one dies for himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. If then we live or if we die it is to the Lord. (Author's Translation)
We all live for some purpose. It may not be a well thought out purpose. It may be a purpose that has selfish or sinful motive. Our underlying motives are often difficult to discern without self examination. In 21st Century western society, we usually do not think of us dying for a purpose unless it is for rendering emergency aid for others or some times for combat. Martyrdom for one's faith would be unusual not in our century but in our geographic surroundings. Those things we do that risk our lives are things that we may very well die for, however, it probably will not be what we intended as the trade off. By and large in western culture our goal is not to die for anything but simply to avoid death as long as possible. Perhaps it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said "There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live." It may seem morbid that we would want to talk about dying for some purpose, however, it is true we are going to die and how do we die with a purpose? Purpose in life and death means that our heart is tied to something it loves. What do we give ourselves? Or to whom do we give ourselves? In other words, what do we love?
Paul is dealing with the concept of each person living according to his own convictions of what the Lord desire for that person. We each have to live according to those conviction. Convictions are not our preferences. Convictions are those things we believe we are obligated to live up to. There is a sense that if we desire to tell someone what exactly they should believe and do, we might be urging that person live for social acceptance rather than to the Lord. We as a member of the covenant community must guard against requiring obedience to man made laws. This is not a live and let live strategy of harmony, but a recognition that obedience to the Lord requires one to live according to convictions. In order to live according to convictions there must be seasons where the individual who is a member of a family or a church must weigh in for himself or herself. The person has think it through for himself. In this life we can often defer to others about various opinions. However, when it comes to our obedience to God, we must obey what we believe God wants and not some other person. This is part of how we ensure we are loving God and not just settling into social norms. The tension of discerning (not deciding) what we think God desires and it being in conflict with other godly people is exactly the sort of tension that keeps our eyes on the Lord and not on the church. If I follow social norms of the church against what I think God has shown in the Bible, I love the church more than God. If I follow the social norms of my parents rather than what I believe what God would have me do, I love my parents more than God.
We belong to you. We desire to increase our love for you both in how we live day by day. We desire to give our lives in humble service to you. We belong to you Lord. We belong to you.