Monday, July 20, 2009

Remembering the Glorious Escape

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air...gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:1-2a, 3b-5)

Do you remember the prison? Do you remember the chains? The darkness? The selfishness? The self-centeredness? We were spiritually dead. We were enslaved. Many prisoners have told stories of the horror of being behind bars. Many have even been able to see the light shine in from the window above their cell and dream of what existed outside of their dark imprisonment. Yet, we were not this way. We couldn't see any light. No flicker of hope was noticeable. In fact, we didn't even know of our imprisonment. We were blinded to it. We were blinded by it. And we were unable to do anything about it. We were enslaved without hope. Satisfied with sin. Doomed by sin. Awaiting the wrath of a holy God.

But, then it happened. The Glorious Escape. The prison break that would expose our helpless condition and provide an eternal means of escape from bondage. Only one thing could break down these sinful prison walls. Only one thing could save the day for the guilty.

It was the love of God.

Through Jesus' obedience to the Father, He took our spiritual darkness upon Himself. He carried out our sentence on our behalf. He defeated it on the cross and was raised triumphantly in victory over it for all of eternity. The result you ask? The result is that those of us who are in Christ will never know the darkness again. We will never know the chains. We will never again know the futility that comes from living only to satisfy our own desires. We have been ultimately, finally freed from this dark prison of death.

Oh, how God's saints need to remember this! We get so good at Christianity. We get so good at "doing" church. We get so good at casually skimming the surface of the Christian life that we forget the marvelous extent of God's love for us. We forget the prison break and somehow become somewhat content with our abilities as a freed man, turning a blind eye to our complete, unending need for what Christ has done for us. Almost as if we end up giving ourselves partial credit for what only Christ could do. Discrediting the full measure of God's love for us. Discrediting and forgetting the glorious escape.

This is where so many of us burn out in our Christian lives. We settle for a self-centered Christianity and forget about the marvelous love of God. We forget that we were ever imprisoned and even, at times, doubt that God may still love us. What a tragic thing it is for God's redeemed to settle for this type of living. Yet, it happens doesn't it?

A.W. Pink puts it this way, "Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people. Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love. Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary."

Are you satisfied with your life today, Christian? Or, has your love for God died alongside the ever weakening remembrance of just how sinful we once were--imprisoned in darkness? If so, maybe we just need a good reminder of the love of God. Maybe we need to remember the condition which imprisoned us with no intention of letting go. Maybe we need to remember the glorious escape that has been provided for us by the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ. A loving Father. An obedient Son. A needy sinner. A prison break. With each hand that was nailed down to the cross, a greater amount of bricks and bars were thrown to the ground by Divine love. With each thorn that pierced His brow, another shackle fell to the ground. And as Jesus breathed His last breath, the work was finished. The means of escape was available. The love of God was demonstrated to the sinful, selfish world.

God loves you. May you never forget that. We need Him just as much today as we did the day He set us free. May we never forget that.

Remember the Glorious Escape and the love of God that set us free!