Can a man be officially alive after being declared legally dead? That question became international news when a man from Ohio showed up in good health after being reported missing more than 25 years earlier. At the time of his disappearance he had been unemployed, addicted, and hopelessly behind in child support payments. So he decided to go into hiding. On his return, however, he discovered how hard it is to come back from the dead. When the man went to court to reverse the ruling that had declared him legally dead, the judge turned down his request, citing a 3-year time limit for changing a death ruling.

That unusual request of a human court turns out to be a common experience for God. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us that though we were spiritually dead, God “made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:1,5). Yet declaring and making us spiritually alive was a deeply painful matter for God. Our sin and its consequent spiritual death required the suffering, death, and resurrection of God’s Son (vv.4-7).

It’s one thing to show evidence of physical life. Our challenge is to show evidence of spiritual life. Having been declared alive in Christ, we are called to live in gratitude for the immeasurable mercy and life given to us.