“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
- Ephesians 2:1-7
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus and to us today with some dire news – we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Our citizenship was not in heaven but with the prince of this earth. There really was no hope for any of us.
These are two of the most important words in the Bible. There is what we were in our own flesh and strength, but then there is what God made us to be through the gift of his Son. We were trapped in our pattern of sin, but now we have been rescued through the mercy and grace of God. Not only are we rescued from the pattern of sin and the destruction of sin, but God has now raised us up so that we can take our place in the heavenly realms with Jesus.
Notice the importance of those words – “But God.” Not “But Brooke” or Charlie, or Christine, or Jeff... But God
. On our own we could not achieve such an amazing gift. We will never be worthy of this mercy and grace of God. That is why it is called mercy; that is why it is called grace. It is undeserved and freely given from the Lord.
Why did the Lord give us such an amazing gift? Paul says it is because of his great love for us. Even in our trespasses and sins, the Lord loved us and had a rescue plan for us. What could be better than love that truly knows us, has seen all our failings and shortcomings, and yet makes the way clear for us to receive his mercy and grace? That is a steadfast and unconditional love that we humans have a hard time comprehending.
Whether we understand it or not, this steadfast love of the Lord is there beckoning us to come, to receive, and to live in the fullness of that love. Sadly, we sometimes resist the “But God” and insert the “But I” – But I am too broken, too sinful, too beyond redemption. Then there is the other extreme of “But I” – But I am a good person; I do my best and achieve great things; I am righteous or more righteous than others. Either way you look at it, “But I” is a dead end. “But God” is the only way to achieve salvation, to move from death to life, and to experience all the goodness of the Godhead.
As you honestly assess your heart and attitudes, what posture are you embracing today – “But God” or “But I”? How would the Lord like to pour out his mercy and grace on you today? Reflection:
How do you respond to this simple and yet profound phrase – “But God”?
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