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living life to the max

August 31, 2011

 Ephesians 2:1-10 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.

Do you remember the dead parrot sketch from Monty Python – brilliant! In this passage Paul compares death with life, there are no shades of grey here – he does not say we were in need to resuscitation or that our life need to be enhanced! We were dead, deceased, unable to stand unless nailed to our perch!

This contrasts with the “life in all its fullness” that we are given, freely. We have the place in Gods family, the riches of an inheritance, the love poured on us, the hope for the future, what a contrast.

The explicit reference to sex “gratifying the cravings of our flesh” is there because the Ephesians were confronted with the sex cult of the godess Diana. In almost every public space there were images or references to her, it was thought that life (and blessing) came from having sex with the temple prostitutes. There was a daily pressure on these Christians to conform to this practice, but it was pointless. Paul explains that this justification of lust does not lead to life, but exactly the opposite – death, and judgement.

The scary implication is that other belief systems, value systems, and religions simply do not deliver on their promises. Other faiths are not a less acceptable way to God with Christianity being the ultimate truth, they are not a half awake revelation with the fullest picture being in Jesus, they are death!

When we acknowledge the reality that we dead, we also recognise that we need outside help to come alive. We can’t by our own effort wake ourselves up, we have no ability to change from deadness to life. God comes in His love and grace to give us what we do not deserve, and can never earn by our obedience, good works or religion. To attempt to please God this way is never going to be effective when we are dead, deceased, nailed to our perch.

God did step in when we were helpless, he was born as a human (Jesus) lived a perfect life, and took the punishment for our wrong doing. So we can be saved:

Now we have a position, we are seated with Christ, we can see history from heavens perspective!

Now we have treasure, his life and glory in our lives is described here as the “incomparable riches of his grace”

Now we have a purpose, [not to be good so we can be accepted] we are part of Gods plan to bring his rule/ his kingdom to this world, he works in us and through us as we cooperate with Him. We cannot do it, but though our willingness to let Gods power flow through us lives are transformed, relationships are restored, communities are changed, sicknesses are healed.

Nothing to boast about, but a great adventure to be part of.

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