TO CHEW ON: “But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” Ephesians 2:4,5
Today’s reading in Ephesians reminds me of a book I’m reading. Biblical Ethics / The Moral Foundations of Life / The Philosophy of Sin by Oswald Chambers is a collection of talks, addresses, and lectures Chambers gave at various times and places from 1909 to 1917.
I find his words a wonderful elaboration on the themes touched on by Paul here: the need for us to die to the old self and to live the new Holy Spirit-dependant “alive together with Christ” life God has “prepared beforehand for us” (Ephesians 2:5,10).
- Christians are unhappy if “They are not at one with the principle that unites them”; if they are not “Christians at heart.” Chambers describes halfhearted Christians as carrying their beliefs like a headache and because they can’t chop off their heads they can’t get rid of the headache - Kindle Location 514.
- When dealing with sinful tendencies, we starve those things in ourselves: “It is absurd to say, pray about them; when once a thing is seen to be wrong, don’t pray about it, it fixes the mind on it; never for a second brood on it; destroy it by neglect” - KL 731 (emphasis added).
- But we’re only human. How can the ideal that Paul describes be true of us? Chambers takes this realistic approach: “No one is constituted to live a pure, divine life on earth; we are constituted to live human lives on earth, presenced with Divinity” - KL 798 (emphasis added).
- I love that—“presenced with divinity.” Chambers talks more about realizing that state: “Am I willing that the old disposition should be crucified with Christ? If I am, Jesus Christ will take possession of me and will baptize me into His life until I bear a strong family likeness to Him. It is a lonely path, a path of death, but it means ultimately being presenced with Divinity” - KL 1241 (emphasis added).
- We can all probably relate to the tug-of-war between the self-directed and Spirit-directed life implied in how Chambers describes God handling the backtracking we easily revert to: “As soon as you begin to forecast and plan for yourself, God will break up your program—He delights to do it—until we learn to live like children based on the knowledge that God is ruling and reigning …” - KL 1342 (emphasis added).
- Such surrender doesn’t happen without a struggle. “When the Holy Spirit emancipates my personality, no attention is paid to my individuality, to my temperament or to my prejudices; He brings me into oneness with God entirely when I am willing to waive my right to myself and let Him have His way. No individual gets there without a crisis, a crisis of a terrific nature in which he or she goes to the death of something” - KL 1350 (emphasis added).
PRAYER: Dear Father, may these be more than words and ideas on the page. Please help me to realize in practical, everyday experience the “alive together with Christ” life—a life "presenced with Divinity." Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.