How Masterpieces are Made


As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … following the ways of the spirit at work among the disobedient … gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath ... For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:1-3, 10).

Happy Easter, Chatham Community Church!  May our gratitude and celebrating be ongoing!

We kick off a new series this week, Made on Purpose for a Purpose.  Having been rescued, recovered, redeemed, raised and recreated by all that God has accomplished for us in Christ, how is the purpose of these now-alive lives being reshaped by the Spirit?

Our passage for this week is Ephesians 2:1-10.  Where we want to get to is verse 10: “We are God’s handiwork [another translation has “masterpiece”], created in Christ to do good works…”

But notice where Paul starts: “As for you, you were dead … captives of the prince of the power of the air … perfectly at home among the disobedient … by nature, objects of God’s just wrath.”  “Dead, disobedient, deserving of wrath” hardly sounds like the raw materials for a masterpiece!

But the purpose of a masterpiece is not to make something of itself; it is to allow itself to be made into something by the handiwork of the Artist.  A masterpiece is made on purpose for a purpose.

Our problem is twofold: first, we're dead, so we can't do anything to solve anything.  Second, all the things we attempt to do to "make ourselves alive, even though we are dead" simply serve to make us deader and deader.  The more we strive to do, the deeper we're digging into our own graves! We dead cannot “un-dead” ourselves.  

But God is gracious.  This means that God acts, not according to who we are and what we have done, but according to who God is. God, who is rich in mercy, out of his great love toward us, made us alive in Christ.  

And then gets to work making masterpieces of us.

Consider how a masterpiece of literature, art, or music "does" what it does?  Doesn't it fulfill its purpose simply by being what the Artist created it to be?  Or consider the skilled work of a master craftsman, an extraordinarily and beautifully made piece of furniture: it does what it does by being what it is, by being what the Craftsman purposed and fashioned it to be.  It doesn't "do and do and do" and then, as a result and a reward, get to become something. It has already been made something, and therefore gets to do what it does by just being what it is.

And we are far more than objects displayed on a wall, listened to in a great hall, or pieces of furniture!  We are (rescued, ransomed, redeemed, revivified, recreated in Christ) bearers of the image of the Master Artist.

The handiwork is not yet complete.  That painful chipping away, the stretching out on the canvas frame, the stripping off of dirty, hardened layers, the repeated rehearsing of that particularly difficult passage, the chiseling, planing and sanding (and even some sawing, ouch!) -- the Masterpiece Maker is still at work, and will not stop until what he sees and hears and feels is what he has desired and intended all along.

Masterpiece Maker, you are the potter, we are the clay.  We surrender ourselves as raw materials into your good hands. Shape us according to your desire and purpose, fashion us in the image of your Son Jesus our Lord, in whose Name we pray together. Amen.


Thanks very much, Deb -- and thanks for your fine example of yielding your spot. I owe you!
This is so insightful, Brian, and so well-written. I see much more in this passage now. Thank you again for taking my spot!

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