But is an interesting conjunction. It seems like the most common use of the word in day to day conversation is to make an excuse (I would have exercised but i was too tired). It’s used to talk about what wasn’t done or why it can’t be done. Listen to the conversations around you and chances are you’ll hear the word used this way. However, there is one use of ‘but’ which stands above the rest. In Ephesians 2, Paul describes the dire state Christians were in prior to their salvation. He notes that we were dead in our sins, without hope, and destined for destruction both now and in eternity. It is here that we find the incredible words, “But God…” In the midst of a sobering description of our spiritual lostness, these two words provide a sharp contrast. They break through the darkness like a blinding light. We were dead “but God…” We had sinned “but God…” himself stepped into our world and changed it forever.
Because of his abundant mercy and because of his great love, God made us alive with Christ. He breathed life into our spiritually dead bodies. What’s more, he raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places. All this was accomplished to show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward us. When we were left without an excuse before God, he intervened on our behalf. What’s more, the Holy Spirit took the very word we use to preface our excuses and inspired Paul to use it in announcing the glorious message of God’s mercy toward us in Christ. This incredible ‘but’ brings us hope. It gives us purpose. It beckons us to lay aside our old way of living in favor of the new life which God prepared for us long ago. Thank God for the greatest ‘but’ in history.