I have this high school memory: it was likely junior year, maybe a late morning in the fall – band class, and I was walking outside to the football field with some other marching band members. I was pontificating about Jesus – foolishness about how maybe he did exist and maybe he didn’t. Like I knew what I was talking about. I don’t remember the reaction of my small audience. I hope they thought I was an idiot.
It’s this scene that comes to mind when I sing the song, All I have is Christ…
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.
There I was a rebel…helpless…hell-bound…mouthing blasphemies about the Savior…from the grave.
In his book, The Elements of Eloquence, author Mark Forsyth – though as far as I know not a believer – speaks glowingly of the beauty of Bible words. And Ephesians 2 is prime example – an arresting yet piteous look at our lot before Christ raised us up…
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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. Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)
He did it. I played no part. That’s the message of the passage. My salvation was not a revival but a resurrection. I didn’t one day realize that I was in the grave and start digging my way out. I was not Peter’s mother-in-law; I was Lazarus. And so were you.
But God made us alive.
And that’s why they call it grace.
For tomorrow, Thursday, June 25th: Ephesians 3