One of the phrases I’ve heard all my life is “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I’ve seen the truth of it in much of my life. What amazes me is that God doesn’t think that way.
Rather than doing everything he wants done, God invites us to join in what he’s doing. That’s the third step of grace offered to us that I see in Ephesians. The first step is what we usually call “salvation by grace.” We see that in Eph. 2:8-9. We’re not saved by our resume, our pedigree or anything we do. All of salvation is by the grace of God offered in Jesus. It’s great news. But too often we stop there.
The second step of grace is in the second half of Eph. 2. We see there that the salvation offered in Christ is more than just a matter of individuals getting right with God. In addition to reconciling us with God, Jesus breaks down the wall between Gentile and Jew, or in more general terms, the walls that exist between people because of sin. Jesus came not only so that I could spend eternity with him, but so that we together could be his people now and forever. If we miss out on the loving fellowship and unity of the church, we miss out on the fulness of salvation in Jesus.
But there is a third step, found in Eph. 3. There we hear Paul say, “This grace was given me, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles.” Grace not only brings me into a healed relationship with God and a healed relationship with others, it also draws me (us) into God’s continuing activity. If I say, “Nah, that’s only for preachers and ‘full time Christian workers,’” I again miss out on the fulness of salvation found in Jesus.
You’ve had a big weekend. You’ve experienced God grace – perhaps in new ways or in refreshed old ways. Perhaps you’ve felt God’s claim on your life, saying something to you like, “Your my child, bought with the blood of my Son, mine for eternity.” That same Jesus also says, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Scary? Maybe. But it’s not an issue of “Ok, you’re saved, now here’s your work assignment, hop to it. Report in when you’re done.” No, in the same context where Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” he also says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” There is no way to live the Christian life on our own. We need the Holy Spirit living within us.
We also need each other. Jesus doesn’t send us out as lone rangers, individuals out among the wolves. He sends us out together. As you follow Jesus, you’re never in it alone. Jesus says, “I will be with you to the very end of the age.” And he says that to the people around us as we travel together in his way.