But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2: 4

 

The little phrase “but God” hovers over God’s Word and provides a tension to numerous scenes throughout it. It is a simple linguistic construction, in Greek the but is called a conjunction of antithesis, which sits at the balance point for the eternal destiny of many souls. Contemplate for a moment a god who did not operate in the manner as the “But God’ one does. This would be a god who is not rich in mercy, who does not love people in a manner that is beyond our contemplation, and who did not sacrifice himself for the sake of our souls. This is a god much like the ones that humanity has tried to create for itself throughout our troubled history. This is a god who is completely foreign to my experience of the true and living God, the great I Am, Father, Savior, and Spirit of light, life, and truth.

 

The “But God” enters into the lives of people who are broken and shattered by the corrosive and destructive forces of sin. We are all born into this world as hearers of Satan’s great lies. Each person’s story is different, but this one fact is our common reality, each of us needs to be saved from the certainty of a life that is lived presently and eternally in a state of separateness from God. Christ performed the great intervention. He came out of the perfection of Heaven to join with us in our world of chaos and pain. He brings to our hearts the promise of a love that is great beyond measure and that doesn’t contemplate our worthiness before He embraces us. Christ enters the tomb of our souls and He breathes the breath of life into our lungs. Then, like Lazarus, Christ calls to us to come out of the dwelling place of the dead and to enter into the land of the truly alive.

 

It is in this new land of our inhabitation where we live with Christ. For people who know Him, this is our new home. We may be aliens and foreigners in this world where we journey, but this should not confuse us, for we are now residing in the presence of God, Almighty. Therefore, our new address is the Kingdom of God, and we are called upon by Him to be active players in bringing the truth of the “But God” to the world that we touch with our lives. We are not called by God to be judges, and we are not called to be agents of condemnation. We are to be lovers of people and to be careful gardeners who work diligently to restore order and to bring peace into our world. When the world encounters us it should be able to readily see the effects of the transformative work that the “But God” has performed upon us, and it should know that it is being touched by His mercy, grace and love.

 

 

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

Mark 16:4

 

The process began with the gift that God gave to humanity. Then the stone wall of separation from God was breeched. After that, Jesus engages in life with us. So, the stone was dislodged. It continued in a commitment by God to live in an eternal loving relationship with us, and the stone’s weight was eased. Jesus secured the accomplishment of the task as He surrendered to die as my lamb of sacrifice; then, the stone became weightless.

 

Finally, Christ is alive and death is defeated; so, the stone has no purpose. Jesus came to live with people just like me, in towns not that different from mine, and during a time in history that I can relate to. He came as the absolute gift of love from God to His children. Even more important to me, Jesus willingly surrendered Himself into the hands of evil to be sacrificed on the altar of human frailty, anger, and fear so that I could know my Lord and Creator on an intimate and a personal basis. Then God proved that people’s attempts to control the universe were futile when the battered and torn body of Jesus, the Christ, was raised to life. This is the most wonderful event of all to me, for in and through Jesus, I am alive as well!

 

The stone of oppression, the weight of sin, the certainty of eternal death are all rolled off of me, and I am freed from the crushing weight of sin which had overwhelmed my soul from my birth. Now I can walk through the streets of my town and live out the events of my days with Jesus. He counsels and leads me, and He speaks truth into my wandering mind. The stone was tossed aside and off of my heart by the mighty hand of God, and He lifted me out of my tomb and brought me into His presence forever.