I listened to the Home-brewed christianity podcast episode Liberal Christian Piety with Douglas Ottati this morning on my walk. It covered a lot of wonderful topics, but one phrase jumped out at me.
Ottati quoted Romans 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death.”
“Whose death?” he said. Without a pause, “the innocent.”
I have no conscious memory of hearing this interpretation before. It changes everything. The tradition in which I was raised always saw this through an individualistic lens. We read it, “the personal consequences for my personal sin is a personal death and eternal separation from God.”
If we read this verse through a different lens, it paints a very different picture. “the societal consequence of sinful behaviors that are contrary to the way of God in this world is that the powerful people and systems crush the weak and vulnerable—the innocent: death.”
This is the human story. Adam and Eve betrayed God’s good promise of life and the consequence was death. Yet, they did not die physically, right away. What kind of death was it? It was the death of innocence. No longer could humanity trust in the goodness of God or each other. We now know that we are capable of betrayal. We are shrouded in shame. We hide ourselves from each other and lash out in blame. We protect ourselves by hoarding wealth and erecting barriers to keep out the other and preserve the self and like-minded.
The wages of sin is death.
But, Romans 6:23 continues, the gift of God is life: the life of the ages, eternal life, the life God intended and continually promises to renew.
Life is a gift. This was another strong point Ottati makes in the podcast. When we observe the vastness of creation and realize that we have not, nor cannot “make ourselves,” then we are humbled and grateful for the gift and invitation into this party called existence.
Jesus’ life, teaching, example, and sacrifice, invites us to the table. We are called to sit at God’s feast of life with all people: the good, the bad, the Pharisee and the tax collector, the priest and the prostitute. Here we receive God’s good gift and share it with all life.
How will I live today, grateful for this amazing gift?