"But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with CHRIST (by grace you have been saved)..." (Ephesians 2:4-5 NASB)
In 1919, Harry Frazee traded away the best baseball player on the Boston Red Sox, Babe Ruth, to his team's arch enemy - the New York Yankees. Prior to the trade, the Red Sox had won 3 world championships, but after the trade, the Red Sox didn't win another World Series until 2004. Their enemy, though, won 4 World Series with Babe Ruth and went on to win another 23. They have become the most winning baseball franchise ever, all kick started by picking up Babe Ruth in 1919.
If you have ever watched these two teams play, you begin to understand what a real rivalry looks like. Coaches and players have fought some through some unbelievable games on the field. Grown men and women are seen yelling at one another in the stands, merely for wearing the hat or shirt of the opposing team. Tense regular season games, electric playoff games and American League pennants are normal expectations when these two teams play...even today, almost 100 years after this trade.
So, could you imagine how the Boston crowd might react if, after the Yankees won 4 World Series, the owner of the Red Sox brought Babe Ruth back to Boston to retire his jersey or "honor" him one day at the ball park? Although it is a silly sports analogy, it helps me begin to grasp what it might look like if someone loved their enemy in our crazy modern day sports environment. GOD though, took his enemies, those consumed with doing the will of His enemy and gave those people, His very best. The first 3 verses of Ephesians 2 clearly defines you and I as those people. When we pursued our own selfish desires, we were not obeying our Creator, but instead obeying His arch enemy, the devil.
But GOD! Man, I love those two words that begin verse 4. But GOD, being rich in mercy. Because He loved us way beyond our capacity to comprehend love, He sent His Son, JESUS and He made a way for us. I've read through the first 10 verses of Ephesians 2 for the last two weeks. I keep re-reading this and am working to commit it to memory, because I am so amazed at what GOD was willing to do for you and me.
He gave up His Son. They were in Heaven. Heaven is real, and They enjoy perfection there, in perfect community with Their Spirit. Complete, satisfied, together, without sin. Yet, He chose to make us and when we made the mistakes He knew we would make, He was gracious and kind enough to allow His Son to leave, to become one of us. Further, He let Him come live on earth for 33 years. It is difficult to understand the fracture in communication and intimacy They must have experienced for those 33 years.
GOD did more than just give up His Son for 33 years. He allowed The One perfect human, who had never sinned, to become the payment for our sins. He walked on the earth, lived our realities, the brokenness of our nature, with sin and death. Then, after enduring our punishment and dying for us, He was raised up from the dead and conquered death. Through His victory over death, we have been given the GIFT of living forever. Death, intended to be the end by Satan, has become a glorious transition from a temporary life here on earth, to an eternal life with CHRIST. GOD did this, because HE loves you and me with this great love. Though we cannot fully understand or explain it, we can experience His love starting today by merely turning to Him and accepting it. When we are made alive in CHRIST, we experience His Peace and His Presence in every day circumstances.
Are you facing difficult circumstances, things beyond your control, a situation you cannot seem to navigate or find peace in? When you cannot and hope seems lost, it may help you to remember the beginning of verse 4. “But GOD”, who is rich in mercy and has great love; in Him there is hope, and there is peace. GOD has done what we cannot and He has done it so we can be with Him.
“O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for GOD is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8 NLT)