How God Rescues Us
Some criminals truly exemplify our reckless human condition. BBC News recently listed the stories of several aspiring criminal masterminds, such as the car thief in Pretoria, South Africa who broke into a car, only to become trapped inside by its auto-lock system. He shouted for help for an hour and a half while bystanders laughed at him. When the car’s owner finally arrived to rescue the man, Pretoria police promptly arrested him.
A burglar in China tried to squeeze through a small window into a flat, and got stuck—on the fifth floor of the building! While he dangled precariously, rescuers spent a half an hour freeing him. Of course, the police took him away after they pried him out of the window.
When James Allan robbed a newsagent in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, he removed his balaclava in front of their CCTV camera, fell over a display on his way out, and then couldn’t escape because he was pushing the door instead of pulling it to get away. The clerk he robbed (with a toy gun) kindly opened it for him to escape. After his arrest, he went to prison for robbery and possession of an imitation gun.
Before we take too much joy in these stories of hapless villains, it’s good for us to take stock of our own lives, and how many times God has rescued us from our own foolishness. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:2 that we at one time “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (NIV). How foolish it was for us to follow “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” And then Paul declares in verse 3 that every one of us did this. No one is exempt from this charge.
Fortunately, God rescued us from our folly when we could do nothing for ourselves. By God’s great mercy and love, we are now “alive with Christ (though) we were dead in transgressions” (verse 5).
Just as the English newsagent and the South African car owner freed their crooks, so God offers us the incomparable riches of grace to release us from our recklessness. Even though we committed crimes against God, it is God who graciously rescues us from our impudence. That is God’s gift to us (verse 9).
It’s highly unlikely that any of the aforementioned criminals boasted of their exploits, and we can’t boast in any of our actions in gaining our salvation. We didn’t do it; God did it for us. If we do feel like boasting, we can always boast in God’s love and Christ’s work for our salvation (Galatians 6:14).
Connecting: Have you ever found yourself in a silly predicament and had to be rescued? Please share the ridiculous details (within reason) with your group.
Sharing: What does Paul mean in Ephesians 2:2 when he tells us that “you followed the ruler of the kingdom of the air”?
- Satan rules an immaterial kingdom, while God’s kingdom is one of substance
- Everything we think is important in this world is just chasing after the wind
- While Jesus became flesh and blood, Satan is merely an inconsequential spirit
- Everything Satan has to offer is just like a wisp of smoke, here one moment and gone the next
- God gave Satan dominion over the air—i.e., the spirit world
Applying: Often when someone has a conversion experience and gives their life to God, they feel ashamed of their past behaviors. Are there ways we can help them preserve their dignity (say by explaining that every Christian has a shameful past)? Is that, however, more harmful than helpful? Should we let them completely experience that shame so they can more fully appreciate their salvation?
Valuing: Take time this coming week to reflect on your true condition when God rescued you. Don’t wallow in your sins of the past, but rather acknowledge God’s grace and mercy in your life. How can you best thank God for rescuing you?
~ Chuck Burkeen