From Pauses for Pentecost
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.
Are there moments when you feel more dead than alive? I am sure you know what I mean. To be alive is to be responsive to whatever is around us. It is to interact with people and circumstances in a way that is purposeful yet also joyfully spontaneous.
I am always relieved when, on those occasions I go to see my doctor, my knee responds instinctively as she taps the nerve under my kneecap. With a smile she will usually say to me afterwards, “You are still alive!” Responsiveness characterizes the very essence of being alive.
By contrast, to be dead is to be nonresponsive. We all know what this is like. It is those empty times when we feel totally unresponsive to God, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to the words of scripture, and to prayer. We feel apathetic, uncaring, and indifferent in our relationships with those around us. Everything, including that which is beautiful and good, seems bland and boring. No longer are our everyday lives filled with a sense of childlike wonder and delight. We become the walking dead. It is a painful space in which to dwell.
As we can see from the verse above, Paul knows about this frightening deadness of spirit. But he has also come to know how we can be brought alive. For him “being dead in transgressions” is a spiritual malaise that is healed through an encounter with God’s free grace and rich mercy, made available in Jesus Christ. His message is that, to put it bluntly, we must deal with God if we want to be raised into newness of life. God alone, the giver of life and the conqueror of death, can deliver us from our spiritual deadness. This happens as we turn toward the resurrected One, open ourselves to his life-giving breath, and courageously make choices for life, day after day.
Anglican writer John V. Taylor points out that God is not hugely concerned about whether we are religious or not. Rather, what matters to God – and matters supremely – is whether we are alive or not. How do you respond?
Make one choice for life today. It could be with regard to your own health of body and mind, a strained relationship, a difficult work situation, or a particular need in your community. Ask God to help you live your choice in the coming day.