Enjoying the View Before We Move OnDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
When we began our devotional study of Ephesians 2:1-10, I mentioned that I felt a sense of excitement similar to what I'd feel at the beginning of the arduous hike to summit of Mammoth Crest in California. I knew the climb would be tough, but I was sure that the rewards of the effort would be generous. If you've been with me for this slow hike through Ephesians 2:1-10 (with an extended break for Lent), I hope you agree with my assessment.
Before we leave this text, however, I want to stop and admire the view. I'd invite you to look back at the ground we covered, but especially to lift your eyes and enjoy this panoramic view of the Christian. It begins the bad new of our death. But, because of God's love and grace, we leave behind the death-life from which we came and journey into the new life of grace.
As we gaze upon the glorious view afforded by Ephesians 2:1-10, it may be helpful to read this text in a novel translation. I will reproduce here Eugene Peterson's gripping rendition in The Message. In fresh language, this paraphrase helps us to see God's glorious grace with renewed eyes:
"It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."
Amen and Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you look back at the text we have covered, what do you see differently? What, from this study of Ephesians 2:1-10, has had greatest impact on your thinking? Feeling? Living?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for this extraordinary panorama. Thank you for delivering me from death into life by your grace. Thank you for saving me by your grace. Thank you for helping me to receive your grace by trusting you. Thank you for creating me anew in Christ, so that I might live my whole life for your purpose and glory. Help me to live each day in light of this glorious revelation.
All praise be to you, O God, for your grace, mercy, and love. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.