It's cold outside in case you haven't noticed. Bitterly cold. Normally I don't mind winter. It actually used to be one of my favorite seasons. This year I can't wait for spring. Breezy days in the 70s. It sounds a little bit like heaven right now as the wind chill is below 0. I'm praying for an early spring, even if it means horrible allergies.
But enough about the weather, it will change soon enough and then I'll probably think it's too hot :-) Let's talk about something that isn't going to change: God's word.
Yep, you guessed it. It's time to go back to Ephesians. I'll be honest. I struggled finding a way to relate to this verse. I struggled to hear what God was saying to me in this specific verse. I don't know why. But I hope that now that I feel like I have something to share with you, that I can find the words to do so. So, here we go.
"He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups."
At first as I looked at this verse, I immediately focused on the second part. I focused again on unity. But as I thought about it I realized that I had written on unity before. And while I think it's an important topic and one that we don't actually accomplish much in the way of, I felt like I had spoke my piece on the subject and maybe I was missing something else. So as often happens, when I started writing this blog post I typed the verse and still had no idea what I was going to write on. And as I looked at the verse for what must have been the millionth time, I finally saw it. Apparently I'd missed the first part of the verse this whole time.
Go back. Read the first sentence. I'll wait until you see it too.
Did you see it?
"He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations." With Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, the law, with all of the commandments and regulations, rules and procedures, was finished. He ended it. It no longer exists. Do you understand the freedom that comes from that? Not freedom to do whatever we choose, but freedom in Christ. To love him and to obey him out of that love.
It reminds me of Romans 7.
"4 So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead....6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit."
I love it. My heart beats a little bit faster when I read this. Not only because the law no longer has power over us, but because we can serve God in a new way, by living in the Spirit. It's power cannot hold us captive any longer unless we give it that power. We now live in the freedom to serve God, to love him through the Spirit's power.
And yet, my heart also becomes a little sad when I read this. Because I know that all too often I choose to live as if I'm still under the law. As if I don't have the freedom that Christ has given. I choose to live with guilt and shame, even after I've been forgiven. But here's the good news. Just as I choose to live this way, I can also choose to live God's truth. That I am forgiven. That I am free. That I am loved. That "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ" (Romans 8:1).
I heard it said the other day that if you see a promise in God's word, you claim it. A commandment, you obey it. And if you see a truth, you have to believe it. There is no other way.
So this week, will you join me in choosing to believe the truth? In choosing to believe God? I hope so. And I'll be praying for you. Please be praying for me.