We have finally received the blueprint of history and humanity and divinity.
Here it is, from today’s reading, and particularly from Ephesians 1:
- We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
- We were chosen, before the creation of the world, to be holy.
- We were meant for adoption, through the love and pleasure of God.
- We are lavished with God’s grace.
- We are chosen to be the praise of God’s glory.
- We are marked with the spirit of God, as a guarantee of our redemption.
In God’s blueprint, he knew we would need rescuing from this:
- Death, because of our sins and transgressions (2:1).
- Subjection to the ways of the world (2:2).
- Residence among the disobedient (2:3).
- Being consumed with our sinful cravings, desires, and thoughts (2:3).
- Being objects of God’s wrath (2:3).
- Being indistinguishable from the disobedient (2:3).
Such was our state. Awful as it was, we needed to be rescued. Yet God did not rescue us because he had to.
God rescued us because he wanted to.
He wanted to.
Yes. Read those two sentences again. Then read this passage from Ephesians 2.
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 … (Ephesians 2:4-6; NIV84).
Here is the same passage, from The Message:
Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
God saves us because he likes us. He wants our company, and gives us a place in his presence, at his table, with Jesus. He enjoys being in our presence, more than we could even possibly enjoy being in his presence, because God has an infinite capacity to enjoy, much more than our meager idea of pleasure.
The magnificent God invaded the slums of our lives, to pull us from despair and hopelessness, because he wanted to. He couldn’t stand being apart from you.
When we come to realize this, Brennan Manning writes that “a number of beautiful things come to pass.” Here they are:
“The drumbeats of doom in your head will be replaced by a song in your heart, which could lead to a twinkle in your eye.”
“You will not be dependent on the company of others to ease your loneliness, for He is Emmanuel — God with us.”
“The praise of others will not send your spirit soaring, nor will their criticism plunge you into the pit. Their rejection may make you sick, but it will not be a sickness unto death.”
“In a significant interior development, you will move from I should pray to I must pray.”
“You will live with an awareness that the Father not only loves you, but likes you.”
“You will stop comparing yourself with others. In the same way, you will not trumpet your own importance, boast about your victories in the vineyard, or feel superior to anyone.”
“You will read Zephaniah 3:17-18 and see God dancing for joy because of you …”
“Off and on throughout the day, you will just know that you are being seen by Jesus with a gaze of infinite tenderness.”
It is no wonder that God reserves all bragging rights for our salvation. The very act of giving a gift implies that the giver wants to give, rather than keep. And the gift implies the worth of the recipient.
But there’s even more to our saving than this.
God not only gives grace. He also gives the faith required to accept grace. There is nothing — not one thing — we can offer for this. Not one single thing. Not one single action. Not one single belief.
Here’s how I know.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
That little bitty tiny word, it, isn’t implying grace is the gift, but that the entire process of salvation is the gift of God. Salvation starts, and ends, with God, including our faith, and the grace we’re given.
Do you realize what this means?
It means that we don’t even have the ability to have faith in God, unless God gives us that ability.
We are his project. We are his creation. We are his “workmanship” (2:10). We are built, from start to finish, by God’s love and mercy.
And knowing this will make all the difference in your life.
As God’s project, he has made you to be strengthened with power (3:16), to have your heart filled with Christ (3:17), and to know a love that surpasses knowledge (3:19).
Once we understand this divine blueprint, our lives will be complete. Ephesians 3:19 calls it being filled to the measure with the fullness of God.
Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (3:19; NLT)
Being filled with fullness of God means nothing else will matter to you. Your life will be completely filled with all of God. With all of his power, his majesty, his might, his counsel, his love, his tenderness, his will — and all of that in infinite measure.
Distractions, pursuits, ambitions, or relationships do not have the power to do that. They can never completely fulfill your life.
Because the fullness of God is more than enough. It is what we are made for.
It is what we are built for.