Before God saved us, we were all dead. All of us. No one can save themselves. It is not possible to be good enough. We are sinful. So God took up the cross, died, overcame death, and saved us. Otherwise there would be no hope for us. God did that. For you and for me. He didn’t discriminate. He did it for His chosen people and he did it for every one else too. Paul reminds the Ephesians and us of that in Ephesians 2:1-10.
God has a chosen people. The Jews. They are a people set apart by God through covenant that He made with Abraham, Issaac, and Jacob (Israel). God gave them a set of rules to follow. These rules separated them from all other people. These rules gave them the distinction that they are God’s chosen. Through these rules they would be able to draw themselves to God.
But God’s rules apparently were not enough. Somewhere along the way, some people got the great idea that more rules would be better. More and more rules were heaped upon God’s people. There were so many more man made rules that it was impossible to follow them all. It became a burden. God intervened.
He intervened by dying on the cross and becoming the final sacrifice. He put to death all those rules and legalism. He gave himself so his chosen people could once again choose to have relationship with him unencumbered by the weight of all the man made laws. God’s people could get back to basics. They could get back to knowing and loving God.
Here’s the best part. It wasn’t done just for God’s people. It was done for everyone. Through his sacrifice on the cross he put to death the separation between the people and allowed everyone to be his people. Now we can all get back to knowing and loving God.
We all have an “all access pass” to God because of his obedience to dying on the cross. He made that possible because he loves everyone. Jew or Gentile. He loves people. He wants us all to draw near to him.
In this chapter Paul explains to the Ephesians what God has done for us. God has adopted us as his children. We are now part of his family. He did this through a plan he had all along.
God doesn’t just give us the scraps from his table or give us a small role in his home as a servant or some other lowly position. No he makes us his children and treats us as his own. Even though we have done nothing to deserve it. In fact we have done just the very opposite. But God does not choose to give us what we deserve which is death. That is what love expressing Himself through mercy looks like. Because of this love he chooses to give us, we can walk in freedom. Complete freedom in the grace that his love gives to us. Amazing. It always blows my mind. I have heard of this love and grace my entire life and still it always blows my mind. It never becomes ho hum for me.
I am always amazed at the transformation that can take place in a person because of love. Just look at Paul. The author of this letter and the transformation in his own life. He was the leader for the persecution of the followers of Jesus. Christians hid and were scared of him. He held the cloaks of the men who were stoning Stephen. He looked on as Stephen died. And yet God takes this man Paul and through grace transforms him into one of the greatest missionaries of all time. I am amazed. It is from this perspective that Paul speaks of this love from God in Ephesians.
I know this is a poor comparison but it makes me think of the show Les Miserables. When Jean Valjean is caught stealing the silver from the church. The authorities bring him back and the priest has the power to send Jean Valjean back to prison where he just been paroled from. But instead the priest lets Jean Valjean go with the silver he stole and also gives hime more. Love extended through this man to another man in the form of mercy transforms his life. And as the story goes on you see Jean Valjean has become a graceful and generous man himself. Because of a love shown to him, he is a changed man and is generous to all he encounters. Jean Valjean even shows mercy to the man who is relentlessy pursuing him to take him back to jail.
Ephesians 1 explains to us that we can be another Paul. We can be another Jean Valjean. We can obey and follow God and accept this gift we don’t deserve. Through this freedom that God gives us in his death on the cross we can become more. We can extend the love of God to others. We can be transformed. We can live a life of one raised from the death of our sins. We are paroled from our prison and Satan no longer has any power over us. I know it is true because I read it all in Ephesians 1.