Graced to Life! / Ephesians 2:1-10
I am writing these words from my hotel room in Jamaica on a summer vacation. After doing nearly two years of “staycations,” I finally decided it was time to spread my wings and board some flight away from the home this year. Travel broadens and deepens me and leaves me with many points of growth and fresh perspectives. Unfortunately, Jamaica went into a fairly strict lock down shortly after I arrived (I plan to write about that story in a separate article.) Aside from the many positive and refreshing aspects of my travel, including some beautiful beaches and wonderful new friends, there has been a growing awareness of being repeatedly “nickel and dimed” at every turn.
The nickel and dime problem is huge and getting worse. Hidden fees seem to be everywhere. There were hidden fees in my airline tickets—there were additional fees for luggage on my supposed budget flight. There have been 10 percent taxes on meals billed at hotels, in addition to 10 percent services charges that even the waiters sometimes can’t explain. There is an additional $25 charge for the use of internet in the room. There is the late checkout fee at the front desk. And of course there is the $135 dollar charge for a Covid test before getting on the flight and then a another charge to be tested to return to the States. Had I gotten a rental car there would no doubt be many more charges to navigate. One airline has an $8 fee to print out the boarding pass for your return flight. Traveling abroad provides adventure and the growth to one’s experience and perspectives—but along with the benefits there seems to be an ever expanding list of hidden fees.
And it’s not just travel. Spend a few minutes shopping for just about anything online, and you will quickly learn to look for the hidden fees. The vendor that appears to have the best price for the item you want, may very well be charging excessive shipping and handling fees, making the final cost of purchasing more expensive than expected. The moral of the story is “Look for the Fine Print,” and when possible…. negotiate. Because nickels and dimes quickly add up and, before long, we end up paying far more than we had bargained for.
Before leaving for summer vacation I had begun a series of sermons on the subject of Grace. We opened Ephesians 1 and discovered some great teaching on the subjects of grace, mercy, divine election, eternal inheritance, and transformation in Christ. We saw throughout the book that God is gracing us to life in Christ. That there is a frosting on the salvation cake—and it is that salvation comes to us freely with no hidden costs and no unnecessary hoops. If you get hold of the book of Ephesians you will get hold of your spiritual bank account as a believer. This is a book about spiritual riches—it’s a book about spiritual fullness— being filled —about inheritance—about who we are in Christ. Some have called it the treasure house of the Bible for a Christian identity.
These things may sound too good to be true but if you look at the fine print in Ephesians there is so much to draw encouragement from. And here’s the frosting on this salvation cake: All of this comes to us as a gift of Grace. And the acronym for GRACE is simply God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. There’s no hidden or exploitative costs. “Jesus paid it all—all to Him I owe” says the song writer.
Sounds too good to be true some will say—because after all there are always hidden fees and unexpected costs. We struggle with the idea of free gifts in an age of hidden fees and charges. What is the rock bottom price we like to know? Thus we search for amazing deals on cars, computers and other things we want. Unlike our salvation, the vacation comes to an end in a few weeks and the new car smell disappears. Before long, we find ourselves shopping for the next great thing. Without help, we become mired in a never-ending cycle of pursuing things we believe will make us whole and happy but somehow fall short.
Paul offers thoughts to consider in Ephesians 2:1-10.
*There’s a new life which will deeply satisfy, and it’s available to us.
*We were once dead, but we can be made truly alive.
*We’ve been struggling; there is one who will save us.
*We have been poor; there are better riches available to us.
What would we pay to break the cycle of disappointment and “be raised up with Jesus, to be made alive with him and to be seated with him in glory?” Ephesians 2:6 The biblical answer, of course, is nothing. The price has already been paid; the work has been done. God is not in the business of nickel and diming us to death. Instead, we are being graced to life.
Some hear these words and a scam radar goes off. We’re cynical; we’ve been trained to be skeptics. We’ve been taught there’s no such thing as a free lunch. We’ve learned from experience that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We’ve been victims of corporate greed, government over-reach, commissioned salespeople, fine print deals, and false expectations. We don’t want to get taken, so we wonder what is God “really after”??? What will our salvation really cost us? Paul’s response resounds “For it is by grace you have been saved by faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9
As we go seeking the fine print in this passage, all we find is love, God’s love for each one of us. God isn’t asking us to purchase a new and improved product, to buy into a program or to accept a philosophy. God is asking us to accept the love we’ve already been given. It’s already available to us. We simply need to live into it. He told me to tell you!
SAVED BY GRACE
In Christ believers rest secure, Judgment passed and heaven sure;
No wrath to come; but blessed peace; Life in Christ shall never cease.
Saved by grace; not what we do; By faith in Christ we’re creatures new.
Complete in Christ and with Him one, In heaven seated with God’s own Son.
He brought with Him the reign of grace; In death He took the sinner’s place;
God spared Him not, but from above He sent to earth His Son of love.
He told me to tell you!
Pastor Robert Zimmerman