In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
I believe that to some degree we decide who we will be. Recently when I got two speeding tickets in quick succession, I decided that it was time to become a non speeder; I just didn’t do it anymore.
Not long after deciding this, I was driving home from church on a Sunday morning with three friends who I had to drop off in a nearby town before going home. I needed to get home to finish preparing a big family dinner. A roast was in the oven and I was feeling under pressure and anxious about the timing of the meal.
One of my friends commented on a car that passed us at a high speed. “Gee,” she said, “Look at him; he’s in such a hurry. We’re not even keeping the speed limit and he’s speeding past us.”
I was shocked. I hadn’t realized that my foot was so heavy on the accelerator. This was the new me, after all; the one that didn’t speed. But there was a gap between “who” I was, and what I was doing.
I have heard that when giving up smoking, breaking the psychological habits associated with smoking is almost as hard as breaking the physiological dependence. We have many automatic habits, as I noticed when I gave up speeding.
Even when driving behind a car that was going the same speed as me, I would automatically check the lane to my left, and if there was a space, find myself moving into it. There was no logical reason for this; it was a reflex action. Even though I am disciplining myself to stick to the speed limit, that empty space on my left beckons!
On the other hand I have noticed that when you maintain the speed limit you influence others to do the same. Often people will tuck in behind me and suddenly I’m leading a convoy of people going a hundred kilometres an hour.
This morning somebody stayed behind me for a while, and then suddenly pulled out into the left lane and zoomed off up the highway. This is a metaphor for my life up to now; temporary living within boundaries with periodic lapses.
There are parallels too, with the elusiveness of transformation in Christ. Once I made the decision; once I became a non speeder and took that into my conscious identity I did adjust my life accordingly, however I must confess that reality is not lived out 100% of the time in my driving. I hope that more and more it will be; that my actions will be consistent with who I actually am.
Suddenly I understand that both things can be true at once. I died when Christ died, but I don’t always live as if that is true. I hope that my actions will be more and more consistent with my identity in Christ; a new creature with new habits.