There are a few shows out there that I just can’t watch. I can’t watch scary shows, I can’t do true crime. That stuff stays with me in the back of my mind for longer than I like it to. But there’s another kind of show that I’ll never try and dive into. It’s the kind of show that requires you to dive heart and soul into the shoes of the characters. I can’t do it.
There’s one show, I think, that does that better than any show has done recently. It just had its finale recently. It’s called This Is Us- the story of triplets who lost their father to a fire, and due to that loss have developed some really self-destructive habits. You almost get frustrated with the characters- who seem never to do the things that they know will be good for them. And I can’t watch it. Not because it’s not well done, not because I don’t like the content, but because the show causes me to see myself in all of my flaws- the ways that I can never seem to do the things that I know are good. After all, this is us.
The Apostle Paul burst out like this, too, in Romans 7. He said memorably- the things that I want to do, I can never seem to do, but the things I don’t want to do, these are the things I keep on doing. He’s so frustrated with himself! You can count this for yourself, but throughout the chapter, I read Paul mention 39 times something to this effect: “This is me. I want to please God, and I try to, but I can’t. And I try not to sin, but I always do. This is me.”
He cries out to God: “Who will save me?” I think this cry is deep in all of us. We know that this is us.
39 times, Paul says: “This is ME.” But then he closes in a really special way. With an incredible expression of relief: “Thanks be to God, who delivers US through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul wants you to know that you’re in on being delivered through Jesus. Paul wants you to know that through Jesus we are delivered, saved, redeemed, and loved- that this is us. Truly.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!