Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lent - Feb 26 - Ephesians 2:8-9

N a n c i   E r k e r t

Ephesians 2:8-9

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.


The first gift that God gives us is life – but not just any old body and soul. He creates each of us uniquely in his image, with the potential to bear many of his characteristics and to represent himself - The Most Awesome God - to the world. Think of this as a shiny silver statue, new and unblemished.


However, there is sin. New parents are often startled to learn how early sin manifests in their perfect little baby. We learn quickly that taking things into our own hands sometimes gets us what we want faster and more surely than waiting patiently on the Lord. And every time that we do, that shiny statue acquires a little more tarnish. Some of us become so encrusted with dirt and crud that the beautiful image of God no longer shows at all. Instead of moving with freedom and joy through the world, those people are powerless against the sin that encases them.


But God offers another astonishing gift: he distributes to each of us a measure of faith in himself [Romans 12:3], allowing his grace to flood freely into our lives. This does not instantly remove the layers of tarnish and guck we have accumulated (think of the guck as the consequences of every bad choice you have ever made), but it makes it possible for us to stop the accumulation. In addition, the Holy Spirit begins the work of gently scraping away at the layers, allowing more and more of God’s image to shine through.


If you are like me, you believe all of this and would never boast blatantly of your good works. But that pesky sin nature continues to prod us to take credit for what God has done, however subtly. Recently a friend and I were talking about our favorite podcasts. Suddenly it occurred to me that I had not mentioned any Christian podcasts, so I hastily threw in a few that I listen to occasionally (but don’t love half as much as my go-to knitting podcasts.) It was my subtle way of saying, “See my good choices? - aka of boasting in my good works. I could almost feel the crud forming.


Lord, thank you that our faith, our salvation, and our capacity to represent you to the world are free gifts that we can’t earn even if we try. Forgive us when we try to steal some of the glory that belongs to you alone.


Nanci Erkert

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