At one time you were like a dead person because of the things you did wrong and your offenses against God. 2 You used to live like people of this world. You followed the rule of a destructive spiritual power. This is the spirit of disobedience to God’s will that is now at work in persons whose lives are characterized by disobedience. 3 At one time you were like those persons. All of you used to do whatever felt good and whatever you thought you wanted so that you were children headed for punishment just like everyone else.
4-5 However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! 6 And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. 7 God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus.
Do you remember Ken Jennings? Back in 2004, he won a stunning 74 consecutive games on Jeopardy! during which he earned more than $4.5 million. He was on for so long, I remember being sick of seeing him. He continues to hold the record for the highest average number of correct responses per game – the key to his success.
But the spiritual life isn’t exactly like a game show. You don’t “win” with God by maximizing your number of correct responses. We can’t study enough Bible, learn enough theology, contribute enough money, feed enough hungry people, or pray enough prayers to become champions. In fact, we may find that, in the end – depending on how we approach these things – all the effort, energy, and attempts to get it “right” may actually detract from our spiritual lives.
What this passage from Ephesians tells us is that, in fact, getting it wrong might actually be the thing to bring us closer to God. Now, this seems nonsensical. Of course God would want us to get things right….right?
If our life with God could be secured by getting it right, then of course. But what actually happens most of the time when we are getting it right – or at least are convinced we’re getting it right – is that we are withdrawing from God into ourselves. When we are able to get it 100% right, 100% of the time, then who needs God?
What if, in order to win, we first have to lose? The writer of Ephesians talks about God entering our lives not at the moment of victory, but at the hour of defeat – at the time when we are, in fact, furthest from life. That’s the moment God chooses to save us.
It’s not our ability to get it right that makes us champions. Instead, it’s our ability to receive God’s grace – the grace that brings us from death to life.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Google the term “kintsugi” – the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery using gold. What does this suggest about how you should handle imperfections (brokenness) in your own life and in the lives of those around you?
Prayer: God, help me today to embrace my flaws, imperfections, failings and brokenness as occasions for receiving grace. Today, help me recognize that your love for me is not contingent on my ability to get it right. Let me be a champion in the grace of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.