Ephesians 2:1–10 (NRSV)
Chapter 2You were dead through the trespasses and sins Verse 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. Verse 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
Verse 4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us Verse 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- Verse 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Verse 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Verse 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- Verse 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Verse 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
I have encountered many people who view Christianity as a type of self-help manual to become a better person. The words of Ephesians upend this understanding by giving a cosmic view of what God’s grace has done for us in Jesus Christ.
The author asserts that all people have been gripped by an evil power that turns us away from God to a life centered on self, which is actually death. Dead people cannot make themselves good. But God, whose love and mercy is greater than we can fathom, makes dead people alive through the gift of Christ Jesus. He gave his life to break all forms of bondage and move us from the realm of death to a life that is secure in the “heavenly places” with him. Only this radical, divine love empowers us to truly do good as a reflection of who we are in Christ.
Thank you, gracious Jesus, for saving us from death and giving us new life in your presence. Help us to reflect your love and mercy to the world. Amen.