A couple of years ago I bought my mom a pair of jeweler’s glasses.
She has macular degeneration and I hoped they would be helpful because sometimes the smallest of tasks are frustrating. The glasses were highly magnified and had lights on each side. Before she could try them, my nephew got ahold of them. He put on the odd glasses and flipped the small light switch. He peered into his brother’s eyes.
“Whoah,” he said. “Aunt Suzie, you have to check this out.”
I was amazed. Without those jeweler’s glasses, I had no idea.
Sometimes this is what it might feel like for those who don’t know Jesus.
They hear people talk about faith, but what does that mean?
Maybe they are told that they should be “good,” but what if they are already living a good life?
Perhaps they hear a list of sins and believe that faith is about not smoking or dancing (gasp) or drinking wine or saying a curse word. So they stop all those things and yet their heart is unchanged.
Perhaps they view Christianity through Facebook posts (positive or negative), or a loving grandmother, or through a neighbor who has a church sign on their front lawn, or that great friend who prays, or that person who says that one sin is wrong but who is blind to their own sin . . . and it’s confusing because they love some parts of it and are turned away by others.
What in the world is Christianity and why would someone be drawn to it, and forever changed by it.
Let’s clear the clutter today about our faith.
Christianity is new life through Christ
In today’s reading, Paul shifts the premise away from what we do to what we might not see. Will you take a minute and read these verses?
Now, let’s read it in a couple of different versions. Here are a few to choose from (or you can choose your own).
In these verses, Paul defines sin as being spiritually dead.
When our eyes are opened to the gift of God’s mercy and the relationship He offers, we become spiritually alive.
That’s what changes us, rather than trying to be “good.”
Listen, there are many people who don’t follow Jesus that are really good people. They are kind. They are making a difference. They want to do the right thing with their lives. That’s why it gets confusing when we try to make faith in Jesus about a bad habit, or what you do or don’t do. Those things are not changed by trying to be good, but by our relationship with Christ. The more we follow, listen, and love Him with our hearts, minds, and being, the more we become like Him.
That’s scriptural. That’s freeing!
Paul said it best:
He took our dead-sin lives and made us alive in Christ.
That shakes up my faith.
Does it yours?
It shakes up my faith because it simplifies it. I have wondered why there were no altar calls in the Bible. No three-part prayers. No hands in the air. These aren’t bad things in any way and maybe that’s exactly how you found Jesus. Awesome. However, let’s watch Jesus and see how He called people to follow him. He walked up to rich rulers, prominent officials, adulterous women, fishermen, and tax collectors and said:
Come with me.
And they did.
And they were changed forever because of the close proximity to Jesus.
Paul never met Jesus, face to face, but He met him on a road to Damascus. In that encounter, He heard his voice asking him to take a new path — to follow Jesus. Life, life, life!
That’s what is taking place in this church in Ephesians. They were once dead, but now are alive! They are moving from complicated faith that keeps God at a distance to simple faith in Christ.
They are not seeing religion, but having an encounter through Christ.
You were once dead. . .
You had no idea that you were on the wrong path.
You wanted to do it your way.
But God, who is rich in mercy, made you alive.
He’s making us all alive together with Christ.
He’s bringing us all back to life together with Christ.
Take out your journal. Settle in and ask these questions:
- Do I make faith complicated?
- How do these scriptures line up with other scriptures? Share one if you know it.
- If I look at Jesus’ example, how does that change the way I share my faith?
Maybe you’ll want to take this a little deeper and check out a commentary. I think that’s a fantastic idea.
Maybe you’ll check out a few cross references. Good choice!
This is where today’s study leads this Jesus-following girl. It caused me to pause and thank God. To ask the Holy Spirit to do a heart check — not about what I do or don’t do, but what I may not be seeing about this beautiful gift called faith through Christ.
Father, today I take hold of this gift of love and mercy one more time. I open my heart and my spiritual eyes to the life you want to breathe inside of me. I give you every part of my heart, every part of my faith, every part of me. Bring me to life.
Today is #livefreeThursday. Women from all over the world are joining in this conversation about life or death, and how that ties in to living free.
I’m so glad you are here around today. Let’s get this conversation started!