Thursday of Lent IV – Ephesians 2:1-10 

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

“I haven’t done anything wrong!” The man who spoke those words to me did so through parched lips. His family had asked me to come to the hospital. He was in a bad way. His condition meant that he could not take any food or water by mouth. They provided all his nourishment via tubes. They provided swabs with which he could moisten his mouth and lips, but this only went so far. I remember his cracked and parched lips as he spoke those words to me.

He was that rebellious son which many families have, that wayward child who has drunk deeply of the philosophy of this age and who endeavors to try every experience, as if one gets more life by having more partners, more drugs, more…what? Eventually the experiences come to be empty and destructive. The drugs and abuse he had subjected himself to had caught up with him. The EMT’s had saved his life. Yet, he was adamant, he had done no wrong. Yet, the tenor of his statement and the fact that he made it, suggest that somewhere inside himself was still a voice asserting that he had done wrong. Paul tells us today that we were once dead in our sins. Corpses do not feel much. They are insensitive to what is going on around them or in them. He could feel no guilt for the harm he had done both to himself and to others. He was dead in his sins.

Portland is a city with a larger than average population of folks who have taken this path. Our once beautiful city is full encampments, dotted with the tents and tarpaulins under which many people live. I find it hard to interact with the folks who live there. But it is not just the folks who have bought the philosophy of this age. I sometimes find similar ideas among those sitting in church pews too, folks who cannot see that they have sinned. Sometimes I find that same attitude in my own self-righteous words. Thank God, He does not find it so difficult. He has been dealing with the spiritually dead since a garden long ago. By grace are we saved, not by works. I have nothing to brag about. God has everything to brag about.

History is full of the stories of people whom God has awoken to their sins and His great love. All of us who are reading these words are part of that narrative, at some stage in that great story. It gives me a little compassion and empathy when I deal with the homeless guy who wanders into the service or I find sitting under the awning when I come to the office. God loves all of them, even me.

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