Friday, December 9, 2016

Romans 14:8 Live as Belonging to Jehovah

Romans 14:8, “For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.” (Other translations)

Years ago, there was a song “Sixteen Tons.” It was first sang by Tennessee Ernie Ford and years later sang by others including Johnny Cash. Johnny’s video version (linked) demonstrates how thankless a job it was to be working the coal mines. In the lyrics is a line “St. Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store.” In those days, the company owned practically the whole town. The workers became indebted to the company having to turn around and spend their income by putting it back into the company’s pockets. No wonder the sentiment was that the company owned them.

But are God and Christ that harsh of taskmasters? No. Jesus indicated that those listening to him would find that the load of responsibility was surprisingly light. However, full commitment is part of the “deal.” We cannot be wishy washy. But whose perspective is Romans 14:7 accentuating? Is it our commitment or is it God’s unfailing loyalty to those who are committed? In some ways, both! Everything we do should be with the constant mental reminder that what we do reflects on our God, his Son, and the brotherhood of believers. In that sense, we “live to” Jehovah. (Some translations say we “live FOR” Jehovah, which, for some English-speaking individuals might be more in line of how they are used to such a phrase being crafted.) Likewise, dying fearlessly faithful to God, in full confidence of his promise of the resurrection, proves we “die to” Jehovah. And this is the reason for tying in Sixteen Tons. Non-religious people understand the commitment that some may feel to an employer, however harsh and self-serving that employer may be. But such a commitment to God they balk at. They don’t seem to see that being committed to God comes with considerably more benefits.

And that is where the “other perspective” comes in; the one where the scripture could be taken as God’s faithfulness to us. One assurance we have is that what we do as loyal servants is not in vain. It is not worthless ending in meaningless death as evolutionists and atheists would have people believe. As “proof” of this, Paul cites Jesus’ own resurrection. He reasons, that we as believers are most to be pitied (for being so foolish) IF Jesus hadn’t been resurrected. But then Paul concludes: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” Yes, he considers us as being “his” from a protective, fatherly perspective. He fully accepts to carry out his “end of the bargain” by resurrecting his servants. So we can be assured we truly do “die to Jehovah.” He will set a time and remember us.

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