7.24.2012 "All of Us"

Thanks for stopping by today! Lord, please come by Your Spirit. I surrender myself completely and totally to You. Please guide me through Your Word - You know exactly what You want to reveal to my heart on this day at this time. Thank you for your amazing, gracious love.

Ephesians 2:1-5: 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.

When I read today's reading, two things really strike me - the first is that Paul is including every single one of us - even himself - when he referred to "All of us" in this passage. The second thing that hits me is that he refers to living and dying as if they can exist simultaneously.

Lord, why these words and phrases? What do you want me to understand?

"All of us"....As Paul is talking to the Ephesians in this passage, he is very much stressing that all of the Ephesians were once captive to the world around them. Not one was exempt from committing sin...

I wonder if it became easy for the Ephesians to think better of themselves as they grew stronger in their faith walk, or if they began to pull away from those around them that weren't believers, and saw them as "unclean" or as "bad influences"? I imagine it became easy to begin to differentiate the believers from the unbelievers and to compartmentalize or even segregate from them; I bet they found it easier to converse about how their faith had impacted their lives with others who have experienced the same thing. Or their lives became more routine and the folks in Ephesus found themselves hanging out in fellowship or eating with those they saw each week when they came together to worship - those friendships were "safer" and "easier to maintain" since they saw each other once a week anyway. I can also bet that, as the folks in Ephesus felt more and more removed from their sinful lives, that they even began to categorize certain sins as worse than others - maybe adultery was worse than telling a lie to a business partner. Or possibly that disobeying your parents wasn't as bad as stealing. Or perhaps that gossip didn't count if it was in the name of ministry....

I wonder if the people of Ephesus needed a reminder that they, too, were worthy of a life of damnation....if it weren't for the immense love of God that saved them through Christ.

Lord, am I guilty of this as well? Do I separate myself and keep myself safe from the influences of the world, only to really succeed in closing myself off from being used by You to influence the world for You? Do I forget that I, too, am a sinner - no more, no less than anyone else- and that I am constantly in need of Your grace and forgiveness, even before I finish this sentence?

"Death while living"... It seems that Paul is referring to how we are so spiritually dead whenever the world's standards consider us very much alive. For me, it seems like God is reminding me that our neighbors have a "story" - that the person we see who is enjoying all that life has to offer, and appears to be very successful and happy, is really dead and empty if he or she is void of faith in Christ. But how would we know anything about our neighbor's story if we aren't getting to know them and including ourselves into their stories?

Lord, do I pass my neighbor by, without really "getting to know" their story? Do I get close enough to discern if Your light is shining in their lives or if they are subject to the "princes of this world"? How do I put myself "out there" - out of my comfort zone - where you are calling me? How do I remember that, if it weren't for your saving grace, that I had walked the same path and come from a similar story and would continue to be spiritually dead, yet alive to this world? 

What do you want me to do with what you have revealed to me today?

Wow - I didn't realize God was going to take me on this particular journey when I first read these verses! I'm not sure where it will lead, but I will continue praying and following Him on it.

You may find something completely different - listen to what God is telling you. I would love for you to share below!