God’s Great Love

– Pastor Brandon’s Article from the September 2015 Newsletter

What is my purpose?  Why am I here?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life?

These questions can either energize us or haunt us.  As I talk with others and reflect on my own experience, I see that there are times in life when answers are difficult to find.  Things can get kind of cloudy, and I find myself lost in a fog.  I fail.  I feel useless.  I despair.  Still, at other times, I feel like I have clear answers to these questions, and I’m ready to take on the world.  In those moments, I seem to find my stride.  No matter what happens, good or bad, I have great confidence in God and find comfort in the fact that I’m doing what he’s calling me to do.

Do I sound unstable to you?  Maybe… but I know that I’m not the only one who experiences this range of emotion.  Take a look at Psalm 22 for example.  Even David felt the reality of these struggles.  He begins his song by crying out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” and he ends by declaring God’s praises.  So, at least I’m in good company.

While we all experience the mountains and valleys of life, I don’t think that life is supposed to be a roller coaster of spiritual highs and lows.  We were meant for something more.  How, then, do we get off this ride?  I think it starts by reminding ourselves of who we are in Christ.  We have to constantly go back to God’s word to see what he says about us.  We need to see ourselves the way he sees us and to remember that God is the one who defines us, not our circumstances.

Here’s what he says:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,in which you used to live   when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the   spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.All of us also lived among them   at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love   for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in   transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and   seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages   he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in   Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from   yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are   God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in   advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Beloved.

Before Christ, we were dead.  The wrong things that we did separated us from God and his life.  When we chose to follow our own desires and thoughts, we rejected him as the ultimate source of goodness.  Our disobedience slew us.  We became objects of wrath, deserving of punishment because God in his justice had to deal with the evil we had done.  Yet, even in this state God loved us.  That’s amazing!  And, because of his great love for us, he showed us mercy.  He devised a way to rescue us from the things that brought  us death.

Alive.

In Christ, God has made us alive.  He has given us spiritual life by bringing us back into fellowship with him.  When we were powerless to save ourselves, Christ came to the rescue.  He died in our place, and he was raised so that we might have new life.  Notice that this is by God’s grace.  It is a free gift, and we receive it by putting our faith in Christ and his sacrifice for us.  We cannot earn our salvation.  It is not by works.  No matter how many good things we do, we cannot buy or bargain for God’s love.  He already loves us, and he offers life freely to anyone who will trust in him.

Rich.

When God raised Christ from the dead, he exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.  Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, and we have been seated with him in the heavenly realms.  What does that mean?  It means that as followers of Christ, we have the authority of Christ.  It means that the power that raised Christ from the dead and established him as Lord over all is at work in us!  Not only that, be we have access to the riches and resources of this king.  This is not about worldly wealth which will fade away.  Rather, we abound in the eternal riches of God’s grace and kindness.

Ready.

Finally, we see that we are God’s workmanship.  We are his special creation, his masterpiece.  In Christ Jesus, we are restored and renewed, and we have purpose.  God has prepare good works for us to do, and he wants us to walk in them.  Notice that works follow faith and salvation.  They are the results of God working in us.  We must remember that we do not do things to earn God’s love and salvation; rather, we do things because of God’s love and salvation.  He has a plan and purpose for us, and he empowers us to do good works that bless others.  He is a good God, and we are his agents of goodness in this world.

So, when you find yourself struggling and wondering, “What’s the point of it all?”  Take a moment to reflect on how God defines you.  In Christ, you are beloved, you are alive, you are rich, and you are ready for the task he has prepared for you.  Walk closely with him, and have confidence in his great love.