Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Alive With Christ
Eph. 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us
Eph. 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Eph. 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Eph. 2:7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—
Eph. 2:9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph. 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
We continue our journey through the advent season and continually see the love of God revealed in the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ.
The love of God reaches out to us from the very beginning of creation. God has never stopped loving his people and yet it is we who have turned our backs on him. We are the ones who have chosen to live in darkness.
But God, “rich in mercy” continues to love and continues to reach out even as we fight back and choose to walk in sin. The longer we walk in sin, the further we get from God, so he sent his Son to bring us back.
Jesus stepped into human flesh and found us in the deep dark corners of the world. He sanctified humanity by living in human skin and showed us what it meant to be a holy human in every single stage of life. The love of the Father working in the life of the Son was providing the pathway for salvation for every single person. This pathway is lined with the grace of God, gently pulling us back into a right relationship with him.
Jesus’ journey on earth was one of continual salvation of humankind, a journey that went to a cross but did not end there — nor did it end in the resurrection but it led to the ascension — where Jesus was raised up to be eternally in the presence of the Father. And his journey, the pathway paved with grace, is now prepared for our journey.
He came down so that we might go up — as sanctified humanity — not by our own power, action or separation from the world, but by our participation in Christ.
When I remain in the world then I am dead. When I follow the path of grace prepared by Christ; when I participate with him, then I am made alive. This path of grace restores us and gets us back on track to God’s original plan for all of humanity; to be a reflection of the image of God in this world — and Jesus is the fleshly image of God. And just as Jesus came and did good works, we do good works because are on his path of grace, reflecting him to the world around us. Because this was God’s plan for all of us.
I’m afraid that too often we have taken the idea of grace and we have made it a cheap grace. I remember memorizing Ephesians 2:8-9 for a “Gospel presentation” when I was younger. The conversation revolved around receiving the “gift” of eternal life and yes, that is so true. But too often we have emphasized the “gift” and the “grace” of the moment that we have not looked at the importance of the path of grace. This entire passage is more about the journey than the moment. Obviously there is a moment of new birth but if that becomes the only focus of attention we miss out on the richness of all that we learn here.
Being alive with Christ is transformational and it means that we are on a perpetual journey, united with him, that leads us ever upward and onward. For years I have read Oswald Chambers’ devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest.” Just that title helps us understand that this journey is me giving everything that I have, my very best, for the One who has given everything for me. I want to continue on that journey of growing ever closer to Jesus Christ until one day I will be completely and totally united with him in heaven.
Too many “Christians” are not experiencing what it means to be alive in Christ. We are trying to live in a moment — one which may have been a long time ago — and are not living in the journey. Christ died for the whole journey — to restore humanity.
It’s that time of the year when many people are traveling to be with family and friends. As I was driving back from a church service on Sunday I witnessed 4 accidents on the other side of the highway. There was road construction which was causing congestion which seemed to cause clumps of cars to rear-end each other. It was quite the mess and many peoples’ journeys were being disrupted.
To truly be alive with Christ we have to get past the road blocks, past the accidents, and past the congestion of life that may be plugging up the journey. If we’ve been stalled, we may need to get a jump start — but we must do something to get moving again. Yes, there was a moment — but it’s really about the journey.
Jesus is coming. Let’s celebrate by being alive in Christ.
Lord, thank you for the pathway of grace. Amen.