January 2017

Alive Together

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved--” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

          Every once in a while I trespass by getting something from Charlotte’s purse (keys, receipt, card, etc.) I feel awkward and exposed as I am just picking up the purse—I have trespassed into her area. Then to open the purse and search for an item is all the more uncomfortable. I was trespassing. These same thoughts and feelings occur also when asked to go into someone’s room to fetch something, drive their vehicle, or enter their house when they aren’t there. I was trespassing--not officially since I was asked or had permission—however, the thought and feelings were still present, at least at first.

          There are several ways to avoid those thoughts and feelings. First, be prepared with rationale why I should trespass. Focus on that rationale as I do the deed. This is properly justifying when I do have permission.  However, there are times people trespass without permission and do an even more masterful job of justifying themselves. Second, we can engage in immersion therapy.  This involves violating boundaries and personal spaces often.  Eventually the thoughts and feelings of trespassing are dulled. The trespass ends up being expected, habitual behavior. Third, is to just not trespass.  Receive permission or follow through on others’ requests.  Of course, there is the possibility that for the good of our neighbors we enter their area without permission; we then follow that up by returning to them to let them know what happened.

          As we sin, we trespass against God. He has boundaries set. We are mere humans and “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Since each person is unique, our “thorn in the flesh” and alluring trespasses are also unique to us. The truth of sin is that God will not coexist with sin. Sin that is left not accounted for separates us from God; that is why “we were dead in our trespasses.” As God’s holy will and ways are on us, we experience the righteous thoughts and feelings of guilt.

          Mankind strives to avoid those feelings. First, we rationalize the thought, word, and/or action as a good thing.  We justify ourselves when we do something to straighten out someone else. Oh, there are times when we are called to stand firm on God’s Word and ways. However, these just and right actions may be polluted with sin. The whole process can be challenging, leading many people to justify themselves with their sin of omission: “I can’t (actually won’t) do anything about that.” Second, there are principalities that encourage us to immerse ourselves into a pluralistic world. In the process, we are not sensitive to what God’s Word clearly reveals and tolerance of many perverse ways is expected.

          These two avenues are not healthy now or forevermore. Therefore, we hear “Thou shall not” trespass/sin. Yet by nature “we fall short.” God’s Word amplifies this, and we have righteous guilt.  By grace Jesus offers, gives, and seals the forgiveness of sin. This is the proper way to deal with the trespasses we are dead in—avoid them with all our might, accept the truth of sin, and return to be “alive together“ in Christ’s forgiveness.

The Lord be with you,

Pastor Sam Wiseman