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Monday, April 10, 2017

Grow on

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 
(Ephesians 3:8-10 NLT)

It always amazes me to read this passage time and time again, just to recount the truth that all our "good works" really amount to tiddly-squat in terms of "earning" us anything in the economy of heaven. All we need for life and godly living doesn't come from what we "do", but in where it is we place our trust and hope. Paul opens this letter to the Ephesians with several truths that build up to the one he gives above. Namely - we are where we are today and what we are today, not because of our own effort, but because of what God makes us "in Christ Jesus". All we exist to be or become in the course of time is based upon the simple fact of being "in Christ Jesus" and as such, we are made new. Our life takes on a different "mission" in Christ - which begins by us being identified as his own by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. In turn, the evidence of his presence assures us that we partake of a great inheritance - in Christ Jesus.

To this simple truth of grace, Paul reminds us how our sinful pride and self-focused "mission" were pretty much "calling the shots" in our lives before Christ. Every desire or pull of our sinful hearts kept us busy and tantalized out senses, but none of these ever brought us to a place of fulfillment like we find now "in Christ Jesus". It is "in Christ" where all things take on their perfect form and purpose. It is "in Christ" that we understand our "mission" in life - for all of us were created by him, for him, to be united in him. The "uniting" of one's spirit with that of Christ Jesus is what brings about a change of focus - a determination to no longer live as we "want", but as he "wills".

The passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature begin to take on less and less importance to us as we realize this "uniting" of our spirit with his. How is that possible? I took a microbiology class one summer while going through nursing school. One of the things we did was "grow" microorganisms on various forms of "medium" in small dishes which were incubated until there was a massive explosion of growth evident on the surface of the medium. What most failed to recognize was that the medium became more than the "host" of the microorganism. In time, the medium took on the characteristics of that which appeared to be only on the surface of the medium. The longer the microorganism was in contact with the surface of the medium, the more and more of the medium was consumed by it.

In terms of us being "in Christ" - the longer and longer we are in contact with is Spirit resident within us, the more and more he becomes evident in our lives. It is as though the surface of our lives is no longer the only place he brings evidence of his "growth" - it begins to penetrate much deeper into the recesses of our lives until there is a greater and greater transformation which occurs. That which our life is in contact with the most becomes the "medium" upon which all growth comes forth. If that medium is Christ's Spirit within us, the growth which becomes evident is that of his character within us. Thus, the uniting of our spirit with his, this "in Christ" thing Paul speaks of in our passage, becomes the place of our transformation. It doesn't take thousands of microorganisms to grow a colony - it takes just one. It doesn't take much faith to transform a life - just one tiny speck is enough to realize the cultivation capable of life transformation! Just sayin!