“It is a failure to recognize this gravity of the human condition which explains people’s naïve faith in superficial remedies…A radical disease requires a radical remedy.” -John Stott
So what do you think is needed in order to provide change? What will it take to change the world? Your life?
Are you thinking of circumstances? If so, then your change will be superficial—actually, probably non-existent. You will simply wait for the circumstance to change. And you will probably be discontent and even tempted to blame God or others until your circumstance changes.
Are you thinking of behavior? If so, then your change will be superficial. You will be like the Pharisees that clean the outside of the cup but neglect the inside—the deep heart change. You might change your behavior. You just might become quite the moral person. You just might look very Christian and very churchy. But inwardly, things like pride, laziness, anger, lust, greed, etc. will be running wild.
Are you thinking of knowledge? If so, then your change will be superficial. You will be the puffed-up person that Paul is talking about in his letter to the Corinthians. You will have knowledge, you will pursue education, you will read a bunch of books, you will grow in knowledge but real change will not take place. You will not be deeply in love with people and more importantly not deeply in love with Christ.
Are you thinking of self-esteem? If so, then your change will be superficial. You will be constantly consumed by thoughts of yourself, fixing your world, fixing how you feel about yourself, and have little time for anyone else because you are too busy watching the latest self-help guru or applying the latest 10 steps to self-improvement.
The reason none of these work is because they don’t go deep enough. They do not rightly address our problem. Ephesians 2 outlines for us what our radical disease is. We are spiritually dead–which is another way of saying diabolically alive. We are enslaved to self, Satan, and sinful society. But worse than anything we are under the wrath of God. You can see how none of those superficial remedies works if you consider the little girl, Jairus’ daughter, who had died.
If Jesus came in and changed her circumstances would it do much good? If he fluffed her pillow, put on her favorite television show, and changed her surroundings would the father be pleased at Jesus’ treatment of his little girl? Absolutely not. The same could be said if Jesus gave her books on life, or if he rebuked her for being dead, or if he gave her a riveting pep talk. None of those things would be effective because what the lifeless little girl needs is to be brought from death to life.
This is why we read in Ephesians that God has “made us alive together with Christ.” He gives to us the one thing necessary. You see where we once had death he gives life. Where we once had slavery he gives us the freedom to walk in a newness of life. He gives us the power to be God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Where we once were under the wrath of God we are now placed us in Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-10 is about our radical disease and God’s radical remedy. He has done what is necessary to take the dead and give us life. What is perhaps the most amazing thing to me in Ephesians 2:1-10 is the “so that” of verse 7. “…so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The reason why God did what he did in making us alive together with Christ is because he has purposed before the foundation of the world to lavish upon us the immeasurable riches of his grace. That is mind-blowing.
Let us marvel today at the radical remedy that God has given to us wayward sinners. Let us marvel that he has overturned every bit of the darkness of Ephesians 2:1-3. So let us, then live out all that he calls us to do and be.