On Starting Downton Abbey at Season 6

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February 27, 2018

Ephesians 2:4-7

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.

CONSIDER THIS

How do you read the Bible? By that, I mean where do you begin? Who do you read first?

What if someone out there somehow gets today’s Daily Text and it is the very first exposure they ever have with the Bible? In other words, they start reading at Ephesians 2:4-7.

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 would be akin to beginning to watch the celebrated television show, Downton Abbey, at the start of the sixth and final season. One could be drawn into the story at that point, have some sense of what was going on and be compelled to keep watching. Chances are, some weeks in the near future, on some slow Friday night, the newly hooked viewer will foray back to Season 1 and engage in what has come to be known as “binge watching,” coming up for air at the end of Season 3 and finishing out 4 and 5  in time for church on Sunday. They would then be “caught up.”

So let me ask you. With respect to the Bible, are you caught up? Because of the truth of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, it is conceivable that a person could read today’s text and become a follower of Jesus. They might mistakenly assume their place in the puzzle is at the center. It would be important to go back to Season 2 to understand what, “we were dead because of our sins,” means, and to really get that would require going back to the real beginning with Season 1. In other words, some binge watching/reading would be in order. Most people read Scripture with no sense of being caught up.

In Ephesians Paul brings together all the dislocated pieces of a massive puzzle and puts them together into a marvelous whole. Paul wants us to understand where we fit. It’s not at the center—which is what blew the picture up in the first place, creating the gazillion scattered puzzle pieces. Our place is gathered together around the centerpiece, which is the person of Jesus Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (see v.1:23b) And because he fills us with himself our place moves from gathered to scattered throughout the whole world.

(It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) We find where the piece (that is our life) fits into the puzzle by the grace of God. The grace of God in Jesus Christ, convinces us we no longer have to “fit-in” with all the effort that implies. The Gospel truth is we already fit, by the design of our Creator.

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.

Grace means God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves—which is to raise us from death to life. Not only are we united to Jesus by grace, but we are kept in union with him by grace. All we must do is say yes to Jesus with our lives. He has done everything else.

LENTEN INSIGHT: There are two grand movements in the Christian Calendar. Advent to Epiphany celebrates the movement from darkness to light. Lent to Pentecost celebrates the movement from death to life. Both movements begin with descent and move to ascent. In both instances, the summit is found in the lowest place—a manger in Bethlehem and a cross in Jerusalem. The lowest place becomes the highest place. That’s how this kingdom works. Lent designs to locate us through disorienting us. That’s why it is known as a “wilderness season.” The way of the Cross is never predictable. Are we stepping beyond the familiar?

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, in whose death and resurrection we find our own death and resurrection; not in the life to come but in this life. I understand grace and yet I don’t. Come Holy Spirit and fill me with the courage to go deeper in, which I recognize may mean lower down. We pray in Jesus name, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Most all of us entered the story of salvation at Season 6. Have you gone back and immersed yourself in Seasons 1 to 5 of the Scriptures?
  2. What pieces of the story are you missing? Or where are the gaps for you?
  3. What does it mean to you personally to be saved by grace?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed’s Sower-in-Chief.

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