“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:1-6
This passage starts out pretty gloomy, talking about what we used to be like – dead. Doomed because of our sinful nature, full of sin, rebelling against God. Yet God loved us while we were dead and gave us life. He didn’t leave us to our fate. Jesus moved into our neighbourhood and took our place on the cross, took the punishment we deserve in what Martin Luther has called “The great exchange”. We received His righteousness as he took on our unrighteousness. As He died for us the wrath of God was satisfied. As he rose again triumphant over death and Hell we became alive with Him.
That is our message to the world – once I was dead, but now I am alive. Once I was doomed forever, but now I have eternal hope. I was dead, but now I am alive forever.
In Ezekiel 37 Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley full of dry, dead bones. God tells him to prophesy over the bones and then God breathes his life into them and makes them alive as a great army. That is what happens to us when we put our trust in Jesus – God breathes his life into us. We receive his Spirit and we can rise up from death, made alive with Christ. Where once there was only death God brings life. Where once there was no hope, God raises an army.
When Jesus was raised after the cross there were scars on His hands and feet that testified to what He had been through and what He had overcome. Likewise we may have scars from our old life– scars from self-harm or abuse or painful memories from our past or people’s knowledge of who we once were and what we once did – we don’t have to hide them, but declare that He has overcome it and given us new life. I don’t know all your backgrounds, but I know a lot of us have stuff we are hiding. Wounds we are covering. And maybe right now you aren’t ready to reveal them. But I want you to know that whatever it is, it can’t separate you from the love of God. Christ has overcome it. And some day He may use you to testify to others that they too can be alive with Christ despite their scars.