Colorful yet indiscriminate scribbles on construction paper. These were the priceless works of art that “Papa” hung all around his workshop. My wife’s grandfather was a tough yet tender man who loved, more than anything, his sweet granddaughter. Because of that, he also loved the masterpieces she produced just for him. They weren’t special as far as children’s art goes. But, what made those works of art so special was the relationship that was shared between the artist and the recipient.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul startles us with some beautiful words about our identity before the Father:
“For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for you to walk in them.”
First, we are told that we are God’s workmanship. This word “workmanship” is the Greek word “poiema” which is where we get our English word “poem”. The idea that is being expressed is that we are God’s poem; His work of art.
Have you ever written any poetry? Poetry is unique because the poet takes great care to craft the structure and wording so that it beautiful conveys meaning to others. The most common poem is definitely the love poem. Love poems are meant to demonstrate love in an artistic and meaningful way.
In the same way, we are God’s poem. We have been crafted to convey a beautiful message of love back to God and to the world around us. God was careful in his artistry of you. He had something significant in mind when He created you and that message is one of love.
How do you display God’s artistry through your identity?
As God’s work of art, He has given you unique gifts and abilities. How can you use those to communicate love to Him and to others?
Second, the passage says that, as works of art, we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” The idea is that we are works of art who also do works of art! The purpose of our lives is to do these great works which God has designed us to do.
The great artist, Michaelangelo was commissioned by the king to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Now, the king simply told Him to do it, but did not tell Michaelangelo exactly what brush strokes to use, or how to frame the beautiful picture that we celebrate today. Imagine if Michaelangelo were given by the king a paint by numbers type of format. We would not have the beautiful and breathtaking work of art we enjoy. What if another artist stood behind Michaelangelo and said, “You need to do it this way if you want to please the king”? He likely would have put down his paint brush in frustration.
In the same way, God has created us, His works of art, to do our own works of art on His behalf. He has given us specific assignments for us to do, but the creative details we use to live out the commands of God are uniquely up to us. God did that on purpose. He wants to see us do wonderful and beautiful things with the gifts we are given. Why would we think it is any other way? Doesn’t a great work of art become more special to you when it is made creatively, uniquely and personally for you? That’s how God feels when we do things creatively and personally for Him.
What are some unique ways that you can give yourself to God?
What are some personal ways that you can demonstrate your love for God in a way only YOU can do?
Finally, this passage tells us that, as God’s work of art, He has created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, “which He prepared in advance for us to walk in them.” Paul is uses “walk” to communicate that these good works are a way of life, not a task list or a to-do list from God.
Have you ever tried to bake cookies with a child? It is a very frustrating endeavor. Flour gets everywhere, they end up with chocolate all over their face and hair and fingers. The kitchen is a mess, the process of baking is twice as slow, and usually the cookies are not as good. But, do you invite a child to bake cookies so that you can win a culinary award? No. You bake cookies with a child because you want to spend time with them. You bake cookies with a child because you want to see the joy on their face as they realized that they helped make something wonderful. You bake cookies with a child because you love the child.
In the same way, God does not prepare works for us because He needs to get X,Y, and Z accomplished. He does it because He wants us to walk with Him in a relationship. He loves to see the joy on your face when you do something truly great. He prepares works in advance for you because He loves you. Often we, as Christians, fall into a trap of believing that God wants us to collect good works like He is keeping a leger sheet of our works. As God’s work of art, you are called to BE a work of art and BE a person who walks with God in the good He has for you, not just DO good things.
In what ways have you fallen into the trap of making your relationship with God more like a to-do list and less like a relationship?
What are some of the ways God has invited you to work beside Him?
You are a work of art. As a work of art, God wants YOU to produce works of art that are beautiful and unique to you. And, He prepares these good works for you because He wants a relationship with you.
“You are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for you to walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10