Have you ever experienced a defining moment? I certainly have. It happened when I was a young college student in training to become a minister. At that time in my life I was a very critical fellow who could pick apart just about anything. As it happened, my favorite target for criticism was the church, and I wasn’t afraid to take aim at my own congregation. I remember talking to my dad on the phone one Sunday after services. As usual, I was complaining and being critical. On this particular day, my dad lost patience with me. “Well, Michael,” he said in that tone that fathers get when they’re about to dress you down. “Maybe God lets you see what’s wrong with the church so you can do something about it!” Those words hit me like a ton of bricks, and that moment became a defining moment in my life. No longer could I sit on the sidelines critiquing. Now, I had a responsibility to be an active member who worked for the good of the congregation. That conviction has shaped my approach to church ever since.

When it comes to the way we conduct our lives, Paul encourages us to consider a defining moment that should shape our thoughts, actions, and decisions. This moment came when we were “buried with [Christ] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised form the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (6:4). Notice what is happening here. We share in Christ’s death to sin, which now affords us the opportunity to live according to his risen life.

The cross, then, becomes the defining moment in Christians’ lives. Not only is the cross the great act of grace that purchased our redemption; it is also the determining factor in how we conduct ourselves. If we have died to sin, Paul says, how can we go on living in it? On the other side of that equation, if we have been afforded an opportunity to walk in newness of life, how can we pass it up? Once we meet Jesus, we launch into an amazing journey of becoming like him. Or, too put that differently, we become the version of ourselves that God always intended us to be.