Feb 11, 2013

Why Has God Done Such Wonderful Things For Us?

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.

As you may recall, Ephesians 2 begins with the bad news of our natural condition outside of Christ: we were stuck in our sins, in bondage to the fallen world and even to its demonic prince; we were addicted to fulfilling the cravings of our sinful flesh and stood under God's righteous judgment. Bottom line: we were dead. But then everything changes with the simple phrase "But God." God made us alive in Christ when we were dead. In a sense, God even raised us up with Christ and seated us with Christ in Heaven, so that we can begin to experience the kingdom of God in our lives today.

Why has God done such wonderful things for us? Part of the answer has already been made clear to us. God has done these things because of his great love for us, because of the richness of his mercy, and because of his grace. Yet, there is something more. God has delivered us from death into life "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" (2:7).

We'll learn more about what this means when we get to chapter 3 of Ephesians. For now, we see only that God's outpouring of grace upon us serves, not only for our benefit, but also for the good of others who need to understand and experience God's grace.

As we'll see later, there is a cosmic dimension to God's demonstration of grace. But we can also make connections to our own lives. If people around us see that something amazing has happened to us, that we are living as altogether different people, people of love, grace, and mercy, then they will be impressed by God's amazing grace at work in us. And if our churches are communities of people that embody the gospel, then the world will see God at work and, in many cases, be drawn to him through us.

Remember, God has brought you from death to life both because he loves you and because he wants to reveal his grace through you to your part of the world.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you living in such a way that people might see God's grace at work in your life? As you think about your key relationships—in your family, in your workplace, in your community, in your church—how can you live out the grace God has showered upon you?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for saving me from death and giving me new life in Christ. Thank you for doing this because of your mercy and because you love me.

Help me, Lord, to live in such a way that people see your grace at work in my life. May my daily life be a witness to you, no matter where I am or what I am doing.

Help your church, Lord, to be a living witness to the truth of the Gospel and the saving power of your love. Amen.

P.S. from Mark: This week marks the beginning of a special time in the Christian year. I'm talking about the season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for six weeks until the day before Easter. For many Christians, Lent is a season to draw near to God in a special way as we prepare our hearts for a deeper experience of the wonder of Good Friday and the joy of Easter. If you would like to learn more about Ash Wednesday and Lent, you might find helpful a couple of pieces I have written. They are available on my website: Ash Wednesday: What Is Ash Wednesday? How Do We Observe It? Why Should We? and How Lent Can Make a Difference in Your Relationship with God. Also, my colleagues at Foundations for Laity Renewal and I have prepared a Lenten devotional guide. The daily devotions in this wonderful resource will appear each day in the Daily Reflections. But if you would like to download the whole series in a PDF format, you can do so here.

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