Thursday, October 03, 2013


A Simple Exclamation

Mark Roberts:
"But God…" That's how Ephesians 2:4 begins when translated literally. The NIV, trying to translate the Greek into intelligible English, reads, "But because of his great love for us, God…" That's an acceptable rendering, but it misses the bluntness of the beginning of verse 4: "But God." We were dead, "but God." We were stuck in sin, "but God." We were in bondage to Satan, "but God."

I can still remember the first time I heard someone explain the central importance of these two words in Ephesians 2:4. I was about twelve years old when a beloved Bible teacher, Rev. Earl Palmer, came to my church to teach a series of summer Bible classes. He was expositing Ephesians 2, filling the blackboard with all sorts of Greek words. When he got to the beginning of verse 4, he wrote in larger letters, "ho de theos—BUT GOD." Then, with much excitement, Rev. Palmer talked about how these two words summarize the whole message of Scripture, the heart of the Gospel. We disobeyed, but God. We sinned, but God. We rebelled, but God. We wandered away, but God." I can still hear Rev. Palmer's words ringing in my ears as he energetically celebrated God's grace in the words "But God." (Little did I imagine that, years later, I'd have the privilege of joining Earl Palmer as we co-taught a retreat at Laity Lodge, and that I'd consider him a friend.)
If, in the middle of your sharing some personal difficulty with me, I simply said, "But God," would you not respond, "But God what?" We do tend to complicate things that do not need complicating. God is simply sufficient. He is sufficient in power. He is sufficient in mercy. He should be sufficient for me.

But we do not want to let go. We do not want to give up control. We want God to give us what we need to do what need to be done rather than simple rest and let Him handle it. We wait, with baited breath to see what God will do for fear that God will do the wrong thing. We forget that wrong is not an option for God.

I wonder if we should pray in this way. Not that "God you're awesome" stuff, that's just sort of exaggerated thanks for giving us what we need - rather, simply "God, handle it."

Or better, simply "God."


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