This week we begin our journey exploring matters of faith, especially as we look into our community. The passage that we have this week is a neat one from Romans. It compares Adam’s sin separating us from God to Christ’s righteousness and justification restoring us to God. For Paul, it is a pretty simple equation; Adam makes a choice. No matter how the story of the fall is presented or interpreted, Adam makes a free will choice to sin which causes the fall. Like the commercial that shows the domino effect of a bad choice, the fall places humanity in a state of death.
Interestingly, for Paul, death in this metaphor is not a physical state; rather, death is the separation from God. This is interesting, especially in our time, since we tend to worship the physical life so much. This is not something that we consciously think of most of the time, but a lot of our medical world is set up to preserve our physical life.
This is often seen in cancer hospitals. Now I have to say I have a lot of respect for doctor’s who focus on cancer, but I know having worked with them many are like a great athlete fighting against the biggest opponent they will ever fight, and they always go for the win. In many ways this is what you want, but there are times when the win that is needed is not the physical life.
I remember working with a man early in my ministry. He was a jovial man who had a deep faith. Though he started to get sick. For someone who never got sick, this was a surprise! Within a few days he knew that something was seriously wrong and he made his way to the Mayo Clinic (this was common in that church). When the doctors told him it was pancreatic cancer and it had progressed too far to treat, to my surprise, he found a doctor back in Omaha who would treat it, even giving him hope that it could be cured. The saddest part was that I watched this happy, friendly, and faithful man turn into a bitter, angry, and Godless one.
He took the fact that this doctor told him he had a chance to live and that he was still dying to mean that God had abandoned him, and just a few days before he passed, he called me down to his house for a deep discussion; we talked for hours. I think to this day that was one of the deepest and most difficult theological discussions I have ever had. About halfway through the discussion he said, “I know I have not been a good person my whole life, do you think God will forgive me?” Ah, the crux of the problem! He began a litany of confession. I realized that for him, his fight to live was so that he could be around long enough to make right what he had done wrong. I held his hand, and just said “in Christ you are forgiven.” At that very moment, his rigid body relaxed as he sat back in his chair. I pulled out my bible and read “just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. ”
He started hospice that day, and his wife told me that the last few days of his life were fuller then the months that he had been fighting, and when he died, he truly was at peace.
I often think about that story, especially when we think about the fight to come to the point when we ask what exactly are we fighting for? For the man I worked with, he was fighting so hard for his physical life he lost sight of the true life he needed to work on. I recognize that often when we fight for control, or being right, or whatever else might come our way, that we forget to ask why, and even more, forget to see how God is calling us to live. As you prepare to worship this week, take time to look at your life and ask “Am I living like Adam, seeking things of this world being dead to the world of faith, or am I living to God accepting Christ and working to live fully into my relationship with God?”
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Ro 5:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen