Signs of Life
As late as 5 pm Wednesday a 5-year-old boy named Monley was pulled alive from a collapsed Haitian home on Wednesday, eight days after the earthquake.1 In addition rescue workers heard a faint tapping from the Hotel Montana but it ceased following the after-shock. Nicholas Reader, spokesman for the U.N. Offices for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports the priority is shifting to those left alive. 2 Those searching look for movement, tapping, crying, and the like. Something to indicate a person has found a pocket of safety amidst the hell in which they've found themselves. Like those searchers from around the world, those in the medical profession look for signs of life not signs of death. In fact, death happens when the signs of life are absent.
Paul's wonderful affirmation to us in Ephesians is that life wins out. The contrast between death and life is clearly stated in chapter 2. "You were dead in your...sins" (v.1). But "God... made us alive with Christ" (v.4-5). The lack of signs of life in the world today is because of our own desires to do things our way. That's what the Bible calls sin. Paul uses two words here, transgressions indicates a slip from the right path or direction. Sin is missing the bulls eye in archery.
Death is lived out under the control of Satan. You don't have to believe it because truth is truth with our without our belief. Satan exists and he is the ruler of this age. Our cravings for those things which are evil are founded in Satan's influence. Our cravings and pursuit for those things that are good but interfere with our relationship to Christ are just as rooted in Satan's lies and deceit as the worse we can think of.
Here is the great news of the gospel that we must believe. We have nothing to do with the life we find with Christ. Key words to include mercy and its link to grace. Mercy, like Grace, is something we don't deserve. The best definition I've heard of Grace is "getting what we don't deserve so that we don't get what we do deserve."
God's mercy, love, grace and power came upon us when we couldn't do anything to help ourselves. We were "dead" Paul writes. There were no signs of life. None of us was pounding on the spiritual pipes hoping the Holy Spirit would hear us. No one screamed, texted, or otherwise got the attention of God. We were beyond rescue. Spiritually we were victims and the future was just a recovery of dead.
Yet God does the unthinkable, he sends his son to come and take our death so that God's mercy can flow over us and make us alive. And not only are we "alive" we're saved. That is we've been rescued, redeemed, bought from slavery, resuscitated, tossed out of the way of a bus or pulled from the horrors of a collapsed existence.
Not only are we saved but also we've been raised up. The promise of resurrection isn't just for Jesus but for us as well. And beyond this we've been seated with Jesus in his Kingdom. Imagine taking the 60-year-old woman pulled from the ruins of the Cathedral in Port-au-Prince and enthroning her as President of the European Union or a member of the President's Cabinet. Imagine an orphan from the slums of Haiti being established on the board of directors for Microsoft. Those pale when compared to what God has promised the least of those who follow Jesus.
God's reason for this is simple. He wants to show off. That's what verse 7 says.
"in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
Many of us have memorized Ephesians 2:8-9. But the truth is that these aren't the main point. Verse 7 is the main point. God wants to show off just how kind and loving he is to the human race through Jesus, the Christ. What follows gives us the reason for God's love in Christ. God's grace not our works make the difference. Our faith, simply said, trust in God as the only hope we have not our own boasting of what we've done is what makes the difference.
The Baltimore Orioles "Future Stars" card by Topps in 1982 is worth about $40 or so. On it were Bobby Bonner and Jeff Schneider. Schneider lasted one year in the majors and didn’t win in the 11 games in which he pitched. Bonner fared better. He lasted four years before walking away. There was a third rookie on it as well. His name was Cal Ripken Jr. He did a bit better than the others Ripken played in 3,001 games with 3,184 hits and 431 homeruns.
Now imagine for a moment that Bonner came up and told you that his rookie card was worth $40. It's not a lie, it is. But the value doesn't lie in him but in who appears on the card with him, namely Cal Ripken Jr. Like those two barely known's our statistics don't impress God. Our worth comes from the fact that we someone else's stats are much more impressive. And we become valuable because of who stands with us, Jesus Christ.
Hold on to this piece of news when you find your life crumbling. God's grace is enough. God's mercy is strong. Christ's saving power rescues us from darkness and our God puts us with Jesus in His kingdom. We were once dead because of our own foolishness. But God has made us alive. Let us pray.
1 http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/01/20/haiti.updates.wednesday/index.html?hpt=T1 accessed January 20, 2010