I am a hypocrite.
Not intentionally, but it is my default.
I preach grace to others, but inwardly believe that my actions or my past are so bad that I exclude it for myself.
My default is legalism and performance.
I strive to give others grace but keep a personal checklist running inside of me.
The struggle with legalism seems valid. We live in a world of checklist. I look at myself and then others and I come up short every time.
Legalism always ends in bankruptcy.
Legalism makes me and my performance the focus of my story.
However, in the story of grace, Christ is the focus.
Grace always ends in abundance.
In Ephesians 2, Paul is reminding the church at Ephesus how they are part of a bigger story.
He doesn’t sugar coat it.
He points out their past, which I am sure, like me, they were well aware of and even replay in their heads. However, He doesn’t stop there, their past is not the end of their story.
In verses 4-9, Paul reveals the scope of the whole story. The story of grace. The story of how even in the midst of our sin and death, God steps in. He comes to us when we are unable to come to Him. Our salvation is not based on us and our efforts, but on Christ and what He has done.
In verse 10, Paul writes how we are God’s “poema” – masterpiece. We are created in Christ (not by our works) for good works, that God has prepared beforehand. This has been a mic drop moment for me. The thought that God has gone before me for the rest of my life and prepared for me to serve Him. My role is to walk in those ways, instead of living from my own desires and efforts.
But, there is more.
We are part of a bigger story.
We tend to be self focused and self absorbed. We often stop short and believe that the gospel is only about our personal salvation.
Perhaps this limited focus is aiding to the division and tension we see played out in our society? We are living as individual stories of grace instead of allowing our lives to be interwoven into a living, communal, masterpiece of grace.
He writes in verse 14 that God is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. What would it look like if we allowed grace to come in power and tear down walls instead of building them to preserve our comfort?
Christ will be fully glorified not just in our individual lives and stories, but also when those stories are woven together to reveal the ultimate masterpiece of the unifying beauty of Christ in a world torn apart by sin.
May we be instruments of peace and unity, powered by His Spirit of grace and truth.
Grace & Peace,