Fourth Sunday of Lent
This Sunday, the second reading will be from Ephesians 2:4-10. I would also encourage you to read the other readings. They are Lectionary #32, if you’re reading from a hard copy.
After seventy years of captivity in Babylon, the Israelites, as a people, were as good as dead. Those were dark times for the nation of Israel; it looked like they were never going to be going home, and mathematically, it was only a matter of time before it became “intermarry with the Babylonians or die out”.
In the same way, we are as good as dead in our captivity to sin, and helpless to escape from it apart from grace. Sound familiar? It’s no coincidence that people often have to hit “rock bottom” before they reach out to God for something better.
It was at this moment in the history of the Jewish people that Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon, and in a moment of singular generosity, freed them and let them go home to their Promised Land.
Wouldn’t you know it? Some of the Israelites didn’t jump at the chance to go back to their home.
This sounds very much like what happens in our world. Jesus comes with an offer of salvation from captivity in sin, but as per usual, people prefer that which is easy, comfortable, and familiar - they prefer their sins. Leaving our sins behind (much like leaving Babylon) has a cost - the discomfort of change and the long journey back to what we were created to be.
We are all spiritually dead in our trespasses, because if we stand on our own “righteousness” before God, we - all of us - would deserve hellfire. (As we all know, we cannot earn our salvation.)
We cannot imagine God’s love for us. We just don’t have the categories for it. In his love for us, he gives us the food we eat, the air we breathe, our family, our friends, our children, our bodies, our strength. In his love for us, he supplies us with blessings we aren’t even aware of. In his love for us, he sent his Son to die for us while we were still as good as dead in our sins.
We are called by Christ to respond to this love, to live in the light, rather than in the darkness, that others might see the good that we do, and come to experience God’s love for them.
Let us pray that we might have the courage to live in the light that others might see Christ reflected in our daily living, and come to knowledge of him, to love of him, to repentance from their sins. Let us also ask that we might to come to love him daily more and more, and that his love might be more clearly reflected in us.