Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-10
While we we dead in sin, an enemy of God, under the rule or influence of the adversary God gave us the greatest gift, life.
Have you ever really thought about this? Today I was driving home from work and the pear trees were in full bloom. This drives my allergies crazy, but I love to see the beauty of the coming spring. God caused that tree in some way to bring me pleasure. I did nothing for this to happen, and to be honest I have probably done more to prevent it from happening than encourging its growth, and yet the tree blooms. For no other reason than to bring pleasure to those that can enjoy it.
True there are scientific reasons for the blooming of nature. I know most of these since I have an agricultural degree, but if you boil it all down all the blooming and growing is to bring pleasure. Various creatures eat the fruit and from that eating the have pleasure. If the various fruits avoid consumption then they reproduce according to their kind and again they bring pleasure as a home for a rabbit or shade for our children as they play in our lawns.
Why does our world have a natural beauty that seems to take our breath away when we slow our lives down to enjoy it? It is God’s grace, it is His gift. All of the world is there for our pleasure and our needs. He gave it to us and often we do not even take the time to thank Him for this. To be honest we even fail to acknowledge that He even has a place in this universe.
This failure is our sinfulness, this is what causes death, mainly spiritual death. If we fail to see the beauty of the blooming trees, we die a little spiritually. If this continues our lives slowly and consistantly drop into a shadowed gloom, which can lead into lifestyles that tend to promote death instead of life. Often religion deepens this gloom. When we get into a system that devotes itself to rules, our minds tend to get distracted from the abundant life around us, life that grows and blooms all around us. This is why Jesus came to live among humankind, to teach us how to live. To really live as a free human being. He would often teach using illistrations like sparrows or lillies, these are natural things that bring pleasure. Yet in those teachings we learn something amazing, that God will take care of us even though we do not deserve it, it also comes with a contrasting lesson that he will not stop us from making a mess of everything either. Jesus also came to redeem the world, so that through Him we could have a restored life with God, our families, our society, and even with our enviroment. He came to save the entire world from a deadness of spirit that was setting a course for distruction. He overcame this by dying and then raising from the grave so that those that turn toward him may have a fulfilling and hopeful life.
Most of you will read this on the 17th of March, which is a day to honor St. Patrick of Ireland. Though I am not fully Irish or Catholic I love this day. I love this day because Patrick loved life and loved life with God. He went to a culture that worshipped nature, and he realized that that was not totally wrong. He knew that if God created nature and used nature to illistrate His love and grace, that these “pagan” Celts could understand and love God the creator. Patrick used nature himself to speak to these people. He taught from a common shared passion, and through his approach the Celtic people embraced God through Christ. They embraced life and grace and spread that message across Europe in a time when the rest of the world was sinking into a shadowy gloom. They brought light and life. We too can bring light and life in Christ.
Today as you pray I encourage you to pray out of doors. Pray with God in world he created out of love and grace. While you pray remember that while we we in a state of spiritual deadness God took it upon Himself to redeem you and everything around you!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!