March 19, 2009

MARCH 19 – POLLUTED AND CONTAMINATED

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By Carlos Gutierrez, assistant professor of business
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 2:1-10 (NRSV)Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: In The Message‘s interesting version of Ephesians 2:1-10, it talks about our old life and says: “you filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.” I associate this with how polluted and contaminated our environment is becoming.

See, I used to live in the Central Valley of California. Because of its geography and wind patterns, polluted air from Los Angeles and San Francisco would come and settle in the valley. To escape this and to fill my lungs up with fresh air, I would take quick trips to Yosemite National Park. Though fairly close, it would take me quite a while to get to the park, primarily because of the treacherous and intricate roads. When I arrived, there was nothing more sublime than to take a deep breath filling up my lungs of this fresh, pure, crisp air.

In a way, I guess salvation is like that. We were spiritually polluted and contaminated. The road to salvation may be treacherous and intricate but upon arrival and once God calls us, salvation is fresh, pure and crisp just like those mornings at Yosemite.

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SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 2:1-10 (NRSV)

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in 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. All 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. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

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Comments (5)

  1. Dear Brother Gutierrez,
    Thank you very much for your meditation on this scripture. The thing that’s preemptively hitting me over the head is a sense of our communal guilt. As applicable both to what we’ve done to the environment, and the doctrine of original sin. …The latter as a symptom and manifestation of the former, theologically primary reality.
    …There is none righteous [aside from the obvious Exception], No, Not one. It’s not good enought to acknowledge our sin communally, as well as individually. We need to acknowledge the communal, structural nature of much of our sin–proceeding, as it does, from the same tainted motives common to each of us. Perhaps then God will see us, and heal our land.

    Jon March 19, 2009 |
  2. –Goop, Erratum, Please reverse ‘former’ and ‘latter’ in the first paragraph. …Thanks….

    Jon March 19, 2009 |
  3. Having lived in Fresno for some years (affectionately referred to by residents as “the armpit of California”), this reflection brings back such vivid memories of trips to Yosemite. Opening the car window as you get into the foothills, the smell of warm evergreens, that first lungful of sparkling mountain air! I am reminded of Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem: “I know there’s something better down the road.” Both the valley and the mountains are realities, but praise God for those trips into fresh air!

    Heidi Siemens-Rhodes March 19, 2009 |
  4. Thanks Carlos for that refreshing analogy of air refreshment and spiritual refreshment. Things really haven’t changed much from what Paul or whoever is describing in the letter to the Ephesians. Being a business professor you must be able to see the lust and greed for more-more-more and that somehow that is seen as better economically. Our mistake has been allowing it to become a fundamentalism of endless growth and gratification of artifically created appetites, losing sight of the grace that saves us. So thanks for the reminder.

    John Hackman March 19, 2009 |
  5. Your devotional thoughts were as refreshing as your references to breathing fresh air. With lungs sensitive to spring and fall allergies, I especially resonate with the line, “salvation is fresh, pure and crisp just like those mornings at Yosemite.” Although I have never been there, you helped me imagine what it is like and to savor a new image of God’s full life. Thank you.

    Sharon Kraybill March 24, 2009 |