Friday, April 12, 2013

Time (Breathe Reprise) - Ephesians 2 (part 2)

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Ephesians 2:4-7
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 places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

In Christ's death he became like us in our spiritual deadness. In his resurrection, he opened the door for us to become like him in his spiritual life. By God's grace, because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are made perfectly whole, and worthy to be in the presence of God with Jesus. God is pleased to let his grace be seen in how he is now able to accept and love even us. His grace in our life preaches that he is kind and good.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

By placing your trust completely in the life and work of Jesus on your behalf, you are saved from your spiritual deadness and made alive in him. If any of your hope remains in your own efforts to be "good enough" you are an arrogant fool. How can you be "good enough" for God. This would only lead you to self-righteously hold your own standard above others. The good news is better than this. We are all equally acceptable to God now, no matter who we are, no matter where we're from. It's entirely a gift of his grace, and transcends everything you can do, and everything you fail to do. God was the one who first picked up the tools, the first to put his hands to work in making you, and he is the one who gave you the ability and desire to do good works yourself. You can't point to yourself. It's all from him, the creating and the redeeming. Now that we're made alive spiritually, we can get on with this good life, this real, God-honouring life that he planned for us to walk in all along.

Ephesians 2:14-16
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Jesus broke the barrier between a perfect, holy God, and created beings that had declared war against him. With that wall broken down, true peace can now reign in our hearts, and in the heart of all creation. Since all creation is now equally under the reign of the prince of peace, there is no longer any real barrier that can stand between people to keep them enemies. God has leveled the field between us. We are equal, and equally precious to him.

James 4:1-3
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

My acceptance and love in Jesus, and my good works in and through and for him, are all by him. He is our righteousness. He is our peace.

The good news in this passage is that it's done. There isn't anything that we can do to make this any more true.

How then do we live? To respond with an attempt to walk holy and righteous could very well be a fundamental misunderstanding.

With careful consideration, what I see is that in Christ, we cannot boast. This non-action is in itself an act of surrender and faith. To boast and brag or act self-righteously points to myself instead of the finished work of God. I see this applying to all judgmentalism and pride that would puff myself up in relation to others.

If my application is not to do those things, the result will also be a manifestation of verse 14. If I act in humility toward those around me, because of my faith that it is God who deserves all glory in my life, and not myself, that dividing wall of hostility is removed. As soon as I make less of myself and more of God, I also make more of others in my life. If I do not place myself in the position of judge in other people's lives, thinking I am better than them in my good deeds and righteous actions, I allow God to create between us the equality that he intended.

Seeing God as he is in his grace and love, and seeing myself only as I truly am in my goodness and rightness before God, I will also see others in a way that offers the same grace and love of God to them.

I will not take the opportunities given me to advance myself socially in the eyes of others. I will take every opportunity to humbly honour and advance others in their walks of faith and goodness, without evil judgment.
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