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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 1/14/2015

Robert Chen

Dear Church:


1You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God —9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

In 1962 a book was published that introduced to the reading public the term, "paradigm shift," to describe how scientific theories develop: not in a progressively linear fashion, but in a non-linear, abrupt fashion in which the old paradigm or theory is replaced dramatically by a new paradigm or theory. Often the new paradigm is so radically different from the old that the old and new paradigms prove to be incommensurable (i.e., they cannot be translated into one another's terms).


Newtonian physics vs. Einsteinian physics; Aristotelian biology vs. Darwinian biology; geocentric cosmology vs. heliocentric cosmology; etc. 


The author of the 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, was Thomas Samuel Kuhn, who taught philosophy of science at UC Berkeley, eventually moving on to M.I.T. later in his life.


This notion of "paradigm shift" seems a fitting way to describe what is being described in Ephesians 2:1-10. In our old paradigm, we "follow[ed] the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient" (v.2). We lived "among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses... " (v.3). We had no alternative paradigm, so to speak. We thought and lived in terms of a worldly, fleshly point of view. Our drives, motivations, fears, and hopes were all conditioned by our fleshly predispositions and influenced by spiritual powers not of God.


But then something new happened: Jesus entered the scene of human history. God through Christ Jesus set us free from the old paradigm. Not just an intellectual freedom in terms of a new way of thinking, but a real freedom from the powers of sin/flesh and the devil. The old paradigm with its old powers and perspectives got replaced with the new paradigm with God's grace and Kingdom perspective.


And all this -- the new paradigm, the new life in Christ, the new freedom, etc. -- came to us as a gift. When we think about it, how else could this new life come about were it not a gift? It would have been impossible for old powers to break free from themselves. It is impossible for sin to break free from sin; it is impossible for dark spiritual powers to break free from dark spiritual powers; it is impossible for fallen humanity to break free from fallen humanity. Our helpless condition cries out for help from another source. This source is the Divine Love as Displayed in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. This Divine Love that comes from God the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit. If the beginning of this gift is called "salvation," then the continuation of this gift can be called "sanctification" or "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (v.10). This gift of God's grace gives us the assurance that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil.1:6).


Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for the greatest paradigm shift in history, a paradigm shift that describes the actual change brought about by Christ Jesus. Help us to truly believe and live out this new paradigm of your grace in action. The grace of salvation and sanctification. The grace of a New Perspective on life. The paradigm of your Kingdom means so many great and new things: our identities have changed, our future has changed, our root loves and drives have changed, our hopes have changed. With this newness of life in Christ, help us to see the issues of this world and our daily challenges in a different light, the light of your powerful love and grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.