The culture has many complaints against Christianity. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Perhaps the top complaint is that we are hypocritical, saying one thing and doing another. This, of course, is true for everyone, which is why we still need our Savior after we have been saved. But the complaint that we think we are superior to others just doesn’t hold water. True Christians do not think themselves superior, just saved. True Christians do not seem themselves as better than others, just bought by the blood of the Lamb. True Christians see themselves as REDEEMED ROAD KILL!
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:1-10)
I’m sure that there are many Christians who do not spend a great deal of time studying Ezekiel’s prophecy and thus they miss a truly remarkable truth contained in this passage.
Ezekiel was writing to assure the people of Israel that God had not abandoned them . . . that as bleak as their situation looked at the time, that God could and would make national Israel strong and influential once again. But there is an even more basic biblical truth contained in this remarkable passage about the Valley of the Dry Bones.
There are a great many people — both Christians and unbelievers alike — who believe that we contribute to our salvation in some way . . . that God saw some “goodness” inside us and chose to make us part of His forever family. But the truth that Ezekiel powerfully portrays here is that God chose us because of His grace — not because of our goodness.
Run over again and again
Perhaps the image of a vast army being brought to life is too farfetched for your imagination. If so, try this on for size. If you spend any time on the South Florida roads, you’ve been treated to the unpleasant sight of an animal that ran into the road and was killed by a car. As time passes, more drivers run over the corpse, and by the time you see it the remains of the animal’s body have become utterly grotesque, strewn about the road.
Apart from Christ, that’s you and me! We are road kill. We are not spiritually sick, needing only a little healing touch from God; we have not even lapsed into a momentary death, like a drowning swimmer who is resuscitated by the rescue team. No, we are utterly and completely and irretrievably dead, just like the dried bones in the valley of Ezekiel’s vision or the smashed animal lying in the highway. We are beyond all hope of repair or restoration.
This truth should keep the Christian humble, reminding us that we are not “better” or “smarter” or “more spiritual” than the unbeliever; we are simply the undeserving recipients of God’s amazing grace! And the grace that breathed life into our cold, dead hearts is every bit as powerful as the breath of God that brought an entire army back to life.
But as important as Ezekiel’s passage is for the Christian to absorb, it is even more important for the unbeliever. I long ago lost count of how many times I have been talking to someone who has not yet placed their trust in God who murmurs, “Pastor if you knew how bad I am . . . if you knew the things I’ve done . . . you’d know that God could never accept someone like me.”
My answer always contains this truth: Jesus Christ did not die on a cross to make bad people good; He died to make dead people His! As Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). If you are an unbeliever reading this article, and you think that your past has rendered you beyond the forgiveness of God, think again! God’s sovereign, electing love can make dry bones come to life and breathe, and He can make your unbelieving heart leap for joy at the sound of just one word . . . that name that is above all names: Jesus! All you need to do is trust in the truth of His Word and ask Him to give you new life in Christ and you will be transformed from road kill to Redeemed.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.