The summer after my junior year of college, I interned with a lifestyle magazine. My internship gave me opportunities to write. I also got to attend art gallery openings, clubs and other events around town that wanted press. It seemed like the dream job. It was what I thought I wanted to do.
But as I sat in my desk, I thought, is this really my dream? What am I doing with my life? Where is God calling me and what does it meant that he has plans for me?
Summers offer us a unique opportunity to see what life is like outside of college. But thinking about the future leaves us wondering, what does God want for us?
This week's passage is from the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote this letter to the church in the city of Ephesus, a diverse port city that housed the extravagent temple to Artemis. Compared to the goddess' large temple, the Christian church was puny- it met in a member's house. As they struggled to grow, the church also experienced racial tensions between its Jewish & Gentile members. I imagine that all of these struggles, both external & internal, caused the church members to doubt their calling. They were probably wondering, how can God use our small church? What is our calling?
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Why does Paul start by talking about sin?
- What does Paul mean when he says, “We are raised up with Christ?”
- What riches does God want to give?
- What is the connection between the grace that saves and the good works?
- What does it means to do good works?
Paul starts this passage by acknowledging that he knows the peoples' sin, but quickly affirms that Jesus has raised them up with Christ. They are sitting with Jesus and experiencing the reality of the Kingdom of God with Jesus. It is with the knowledge that because of God’s grace they are raised up that Paul gives them insight on how they can follow God’s calling. They – the church of Ephesus with all it’s problems and insecurities – were God’s handiwork to do good works.
The reason I took the internship with the lifestyle magazine wasn't because it was my dream job. Sure, it was an amazing and fun opportunity. But it wasn't my calling. The reason I took the internship was because I felt like I was unworthy for my dream job, Greek InterVarsity staff.
Who was I that God would call me to work for a ministry that I loved so much? With all of my shortcomings and failures, how could God possibly want me to minister on campus? Because of these feelings of unworthiness, I was sure that God wouldn't provide for the fundraising that would be required if I joined Greek IV staff. When I finally came around to believing that it was God's grace that made me worthy for the calling he had for me, I was able to joyfully say yes to Greek IV.
The fear that we are unworthy causes us to settle for far less than what God wants for us and keeps us from believing in ourselves. Most of us have at least one crazy dream. In fact, take a moment to think of that crazy dream. If we would truly trust God – not in spite of our own short comings, but because of his grace – we would stop settling and start living the life he has for us.