Have you ever looked back and said, “Why did I do that?” or “Why did I say that?” Have you ever had the experience of saying, “I can’t believe I acted that way!” or “I knew better, but I did it (or said it) anyway.” You’re certainly not alone. Anyone who has never felt that sense of regret either is without conscience, is terribly self-unaware, or was born into some level of holy perfection that has certainly escaped most of us. It is safe to say that such regret is part of the human condition. It is safe to say that we share in common the experience of looking into the mirror and saying to the face staring back at us, “I cannot believe you did that. You know better.”
This Sunday, we continue spending time with the apostle Paul, who very openly expresses that common experience in his letter to the church at Rome. He wrote these somewhat startling words: “I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate . . . The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do . . . So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me . . . I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse?” Can you detect in Paul’s words the perplexity he feels about his own actions?
Can you hear his feeling of powerlessness?
The good news is that Paul doesn’t stay stuck with his questions, but goes on to write of the grace, power, and hope for living that he has found in Christ. He ends this text with “Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Portions of Romans 7:15-25a).
It is the journey from regret and perplexity to the good news of God’s grace in Christ that will be my sermon focus in the Sanctuary Worship services this Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then.
Grace and Peace,