And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10
We had experienced a great conference. Christian leadership was the topic. The fellowship and sense of unity was a great blessing. We had bonded – those fellow church staff members and I. We were a team. We enjoyed the conversations at night, and the interchanges during the day.
Then came the message on the final day. John Ortberg (author of The Life You’ve Always Wanted, and If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, among others) spoke. His voice was subdued. His delivery reserved. There was nothing impressive in his appearance or delivery that caused us to listen. But the truth he shared that day was profound and has stayed with me these many years since.
“Take the index card you’ve been given and write on it, ‘You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you.’ These words come from Isaiah 43:4.” For the next 30 minutes – or was it 40 or more? – he talked about God’s love for us, our value in his sight, and the honor he has for his loved ones. Quiet but confident. Reserved but powerful. Simple but profound.
It’s like being at a stoplight next to a very powerful car. You feel it in your bones. You sense it in your ears. But the driver is restrained. He has no need to squeal the tires. He is not compelled to open it up. The power is there. He knows it. You know it.
This is the love of God. Powerful. Impactful. Real. Precious. Able to stand on its own, for there is nothing greater. Paul puts it this way:
God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.
God has a great love for us. He loves us even when we’re dead in our tresspasses. Love compelled God to reach across the chasm of our waywardness and rebellion to redeem and save us because he loves us. Love is his motive. Salvation is his gift. Blessings abound evermore.