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
Perhaps you know what it’s like to be dead even though your heart is beating, you’re walking around, speaking to people, and with every outward appearance seem to be alive. Some people seem very much alive – even in their dead estate. Going through the motions. No motivation for doing the things they know are good for them. Never truly happy. Never truly at rest. Perhaps substituting activity with life. The two are related, to be sure. But activity does not equate with life: just consider the recently dispatched chicken! If you’ve ever experienced someone at the end of life on a respirator, it doesn’t take too long to realize, also, that breathing is not, by itself, a sign of life.
Biologists identify seven necessary characteristics of living organisms. They use the acronym MRS GREN which stands for Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion and Nutrition. Activity (movement) is only one of the seven.
If you were to apply these seven characteristics to being alive in Christ – giving them each their proper spiritual priority – you begin to appreciate what it means to be alive in Christ.
- We move, following Jesus where he leads, and walking in the good works he has prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).
- We breathe (respiration) in the Holy Spirit, who enlivens us and Scripture itself (cf. Genesis 2:7; 2 Timothy 3:16).
- In Christ we are able to sense the move of the Spirit or the needs of others around us. We do not remain unaware of what God is doing in our life and the lives of others.
- Certainly we also grow in our faith in God and our love for him and one another. We even pray for it in the prayer after communion.
- Jesus’ command to make disciples means we seek to reproduce others who follow Jesus by our witness and sharing the Good News of Jesus.
- Excretion is another matter, but important nonetheless. We must daily throw out the old nature and abandon evil lusts and desires of the flesh. Jesus’ first sermon was a call to repent (get rid of false notions about God and life).
- How rich is the fare we enjoy when we feast on God’s word and receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Lord’s Supper: true nutrition for the soul!
How is your life in Christ? Is there an area you need to evaluate further? Is there some excess that has you off balance? Is there something to rid yourself of in order to keep Christ and his loving kindness and mercy from being crowded out?
We’ve been made alive in Christ. This is God’s gift and work. It is a lifelong process this side of heaven. Let’s make Mrs Gren proud!