“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.”
Sometimes I think it takes an addict to get what Paul is telling us about us. An alcoholic knows the bridges he has burned. The people he has thrown under the bus. The lies he
guards while sobering up. Lies that buy more bottles, burn more bridges, and throw those who care most about him under the bus. Again. And again. A meth addict knows what she is capable of. What it costs as she trades herself away for party favors. Sees her body wasting and face pocked with sores. And know…..she’ll do anything… to play again. Coke and heroin addicts know the importance of surrounding yourself with people who get you. People who will laugh with you when you don’t have a decent vein left to shoot up. Who understand why sharing their needle and speedball with you is less dangerous for them than not letting you chase your high with them. An addict gets what Paul is telling us about us.
“As for you, don’t you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, 2 wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air—oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience.” Corpses. Owned. Dead and buried in the mountain of mistakes, poor choices and lousy friends we have made in wandering like the living dead the course of this perverse world. You don’t have to be an addict to make the connection. But an addict gets it. An addict gets what it is to live without life. To wake up surprised you are still alive and heart-broken to face another day being owned by an addiction that insists you to stay breathing and chasing the next high.
Paul says that that is how God has found us. We are not as we present ourselves to be. We are not basically good kids who need a better role model. We don’t just need a little buff and polish to showcase our shine. We are the living dead. Our allegiance is to the prince of the power of the air. And –oh, how he owns you and me. Just in case we don’t have the stomach to compare ourselves to people we all look down on as morally reprehensible, Paul clears the air. “I’m not talking about the outsiders alone; 3 we were all guilty of falling headlong for the persuasive passions of this world; we all have had our fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers. As a result, our natural inclinations led us to be children of wrath, just like the rest of humankind”
We are children of wrath too. We are buried under our own mountain of mistakes, poor choices and lousy friends. We have all had our “moment.” Or “moments.” We just sigh in relief that we don’t have the open sores that could embarrass us by staring down the lie we are any better. And we swear to secrecy those whose loving devotion has walked us back from the brink of our self-destruction. So today, let’s have an addict teach us. Let’s have someone who really knows how God has found us and what God has done for us in Jesus. Let’s have an addict speak to us the truth that we find so hard to hear because of the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. Let us hear the good news: God fills lifeless souls with life.
Say that with me: God fills lifeless souls with life.
“But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed one, Jesus, and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace.”
Unfathomable. That means incomprehensible. That means mysterious. That means “I don’t get why you are doing this for me?” That means in spite of all that you and I have done. All the bridges you and I have burned. All the people you and I have hurt. All the memories of the horrors we have lived. Of the things known only between God and you.
Unfathomable richness. That means God dips into the wellspring of God’s love and mercy and makes of us what we could never make of ourselves. You and I are become works of art, heaven’s poetry. We have been commissioned from God’ desire to grant us a grace that is neither deserved no comes with strings attached. We are set free from our living death by God’s desire to show mercy at all costs, even though it will cost him the life of Jesus by people who are too dead inside to notice or care. Unfathomable richness Focused. Focused. On us. God’s love and mercy are focused on us. Focused like we are the bell of the ball, the center of attention, the reason for the party. The unfathomable richness of God’s love and mercy are focused on the walking dead and we are dead no more. We are united with Jesus and our lifeless souls are infused with life. Wonderful life. Bountiful life. Sacrificial life. Never ending life.
Our destiny is not to live as the walking dead. Our destiny is to be transformed into heaven’s poetry etched on our lives, visible and living testament to love and mercy at the hands of a God who is focused on each and every one of us.
So let’s try this verse again. “For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.”
Word of God. Word of life. And let all of God’s people say Amen.