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Sunday, March 19, 2017
1000 pieces and counting
2Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 NLT)
It is a long passage this morning, but it is all good stuff! The stage is set with the words: "Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins". Then the door opens to reveal the results of God's actions taken to counteract all our sinful actions. The most important thing within this passage is very easily "glossed over" - "You used to live..." It doesn't say we continue to live, but that we used to live...past tense...a done deal. If we have been wondering if our walk with Jesus really "took hold" because we are continually struggling with some kind of sin or another, then let me just assure you - it did! It is no longer the spirit of the devil at work in our hearts - it is God's Spirit - and there is no greater power available to us to turn us away from sin than his indwelling Spirit.
I have spoken before about the power of that tiny word "but" - it cancels out everything that comes before it and focuses us squarely on what comes after. So, all that giving into sin and being ruled by our sinful desires, fueled by the enticements of the world, they are all behind us. Look at the passage again - we were raised - it is a finished work, my friends. Think for a moment about a jigsaw puzzle. On the outside of the box, what do you see? Isn't it an image of the finished work inside that box? Is the "stuff" inside the puzzle box a finished work? No - because there is a "fitting together" of the pieces which is required in order to have it resemble completely the image depicted on the outside of that box.
In much the same way, we are like puzzle pieces not yet fully fit together to resemble the image of Christ. The image is there, constantly reminding us of what it is that is being created each time a piece falls into place within our lives. As long as the pieces are moving into place, we are on the right track! They aren't all fit together yet, but they are sorted into "piles" much the same way we sort puzzle pieces into color or design before we go about trying to assemble them. The edges are important - because they form the framework in which we fit the pieces. There are some sections of the puzzle which are quite easily fit together - because the design is simple or the color is the only type of that sort in the whole puzzle.
In life, not all the pieces fit together as easy as some may. I think God gives us those "easy pieces" or sections of our life's puzzle that seem to "fit together" easily because he wants us to begin to see the resemblance we have to the image he sets before us - his Son. If I try to make the puzzle in the box resemble anything other than the image it is patterned after, the pieces don't fit. It is the same way with our life - the pieces fit best when they are held up to the pattern of Christ, then places into that pattern in just the right place at just the right time. We don't see how all these pieces of our life fit together - but thank God, we have a continual pattern before us to help guide us into that perfect fit! Just sayin!