Jon Bon Jovi’s song Dead or Alive has been one of my favorites for years. A couple of the verses and chorus go like this:
Its all the same,
only the names will change
Everyday it seems were wasting away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I'd drive all night just to get back home
I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive
Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the bottle that you drink
And times when youre all alone all you do is think
You can find a live version at YouTube.
I’ve always loved the music that goes along these lyrics, but the lyrics themselves speak volumes. How sad that at some low point Bon Jovi realized he had no real relationship with his fans. All that mattered was whether or not he completed the show and gave the crowd what they paid for. He speaks of wasting away and wanting to go home. He compares himself to a cowboy of sorts riding the trail all alone even though he travels the country with a large number of people, and every night he is in an arena with tens of thousands. In the end all he has is his thoughts because even though he’s wanted it doesn’t really matter to those around whether or not he’s dead or alive.
In the Letter to Ephesians Paul writes about making a choice between being dead or alive. Paul states, and you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2: 1-3, NKJV).
Those without Christ are dead.
Paul used a very strong word. If you are dead you’re dead. Following the ways of the world and depending on self and other men is a dead existence controlled by evil. To be dead in trespasses refers to missing the mark or target. Our life has a clear purpose and goal from the beginning determined by God. If we choose to get off the main road and sightsee through the worldly countryside, and if we choose to conform to our sinful world, we are following our own desires and serving Satan.
Sometimes I observe students who know right from wrong, and they have the skills to succeed in the classroom, yet they continue day after day to make poor choices. Often when I counsel them because of their youth and immaturity they cannon fathom what I’m trying to tell them. At some point they will run out of time, and they will realize they have missed their target. They will not have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in high school and be able to enter the college or career path they choose. I have to admit I get angry and frustrated because I have provided the correct path in my classroom, and they choose another. However, when students come to visit a few years later and admit to me they quit school at some point, got in trouble with juvenile court, or lazed their way through class after class I still give them a hug and encouragement. They can still make a choice. They have more time.
Paul tells us in this passage that God will release his wrath or anger upon those who do not choose life over death. Even through the anger, however, God still cares. Making the choice between life and death is simple…you submit and ask for forgiveness. You commit to follow Christ. In a flash the worldly sins we have comitted are forgiven and the Lord immediately provides grace through his mercy.
Why does He do this? It’s simple. God forgives and gives us the gift of grace simply because He loves us. Ephesians 2: 4-7 (NKJV) states but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raise us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Notice the importance of the gift of grace…..Paul uses the word not once, but twice. There is a major pronoun switch between versus 1-3 and versus 4-7….the pronoun Paul uses in the first set of verses is “you” and the in verses 4-7 the pronoun switches to “us”. You are no longer wandering aimlessly through the world alone. By choosing Christ you enjoy fellowship of like believers.
Paul then reminds us in verses 8 and 9 the condition of receiving God’s grace in that for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. We live in Christ by accepting God’s gift of grace through faith. We cannot work our way to Heaven. Just as Bon Jovi realized in his song lyrics he had no real relationship with those around him. He was dead. When we choose life we end up with the best relationship of all…one with God.
Finally, Paul explains in verse 10 for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Our purpose in life is to become more Christ-like and to follow the path that God has for us. While it is true many of us stray from that path we always have choice to return and open the gift of grace.
However, at some point your time will run out…..
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