Michelangelo, one of history’s greatest sculptors, once said “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
I could stop there and just let the Holy Spirit minister to you in that simple, yet profound quote.
Among all the things in this world that people struggle with, there are two that are common to all: What is the meaning to life and what is my purpose in it? Some people spend their entire lives searching for the answers to these questions. Even Christians struggle with these questions even when it seems that we have the answers and the Truth set before us in God’s Word. Let me just tell you this simple truth:
God did not create us to merely exist.
This month at Great Commission Schools, we’ve been focusing on Ephesians 2:10 and it is my belief that we can find the answer to those two questions in this singular verse: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In the very beginning, before the world was formed, God had you in mind. As Psalm 139:13-16 said “He knit you together in your mother’s womb…” and you in I were created, in Christ, to be an image bearer (Genesis 2:27). We have that distinct honor. We are set apart from all other created things. We are the only ones in Creation that have the image of the Creator stamped upon our lives. We are already set apart from everything else in Creation so that we can perform good works (Ephesians 2:10) that God has set us apart to do.
God calls us His handiwork or His artwork, but what is this handiwork that the scripture tells us about? The word comes from the Greek word, poiēma. We are God’s poem. We are something crafted, with skill and a purpose, by God, for His purposes. Specifically, we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works."
Let me throw in this little disclaimer before I continue: Good works do not give us salvation. It's the age-old debate of good works versus faith. You need both. We’re saved by faith and because we are new creations in Christ, good works are absolutely meant to be the result of salvation.
When you think of this verse (Ephesians 2:10) and being God’s handiwork, what do you think of? Personally, I think about things that are made by someone and something that takes time. I think art and when I think about art, I think about beautiful things. A great artist cannot rush in creating his or her works if they truly want it to be a masterpiece. It takes great thought and immense attention to detail.
Just like Michelangelo. It took him 3 years to create David, 2 years to carve out the Pieta, 4 years to paint the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel including an additional 5 years to paint the Last Judgment that adorns the altar of the same building. When thinking about those beautiful works of art, including all his other masterpieces, can you imagine that vision? To look at a hunk of rock and see the potential that lies inside of it? To not see the stone for its rough exterior, broken edges, or superficial flaws? To look at a blank canvas and already see what’s going to be painted? To already see a beautiful piece of art before it’s ever created?
You see, that is what God is doing in you and me. He sees us for what we currently are and He’s working at chipping away our rough exterior to reveal the beauty that we hold inside of us. He’s working at revealing the purpose for why He has created you, specifically. God has created you as His work of art to do good works. You have a purpose for living. He has a work for you to do. He has a plan for your life. Are you finding it? Are you moving in that direction? Or, are you wandering through your days saying, “I have salvation so that takes care of that?”
As we walk in relationship with Christ, we are slowly given revelation as to what we are to do and why we were created, but ultimately you were created to be an image bearer of Christ and the purpose is to complete the good works God prepared for you to do. Philippians 2:10 reminds us “We were “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Take hold of that! God didn’t create you to merely exist. He didn’t create you to just leave you where you are. God is behind you and beside you. God is going ahead of us, preparing the way by which we will come, so that the work we do may fulfill His plan for us. Your Father has prepared the way for you too. Maybe you are facing a setback right now. Maybe there is a crisis in your life. Maybe it seems as though nothing is ever going to change. Even when there are setbacks or crises in life, we can remember God is working through, in, and around us. He is God is always working and inviting us to join Him in those works.
Maybe you have found yourself in a season where you don’t even see your own value or worth right now. Maybe you don’t have the confidence to believe that God could use you to do His work. Maybe you think that you’ve made too many mistakes or had a great failure that disqualifies you from doing God’s work. Believe me. I’ve been there. Actually, I find myself there more often than not. However, we are not that powerful.
You may look at yourself and say, “I don’t get it. I don’t look like a perfect person. My life doesn’t look like a work of beauty.” “There’s chaos, doubt, and confusion all around me, how could this be God’s plan and purpose?” Let me remind you of this. God was the first Michelangelo. He wants to free you just as Michelangelo freed all His sculptures from the cold, stone slabs in which they lived.
Here’s what I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me to tell you, and simply remind myself, “Just hang on. You can’t, but I can see what I can make you. I see your potential. You need to let me chisel away at you because I see the masterpiece that lies inside. You need to be patient, because you are a work in progress. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it will take all of your life on this earth and won’t be finished until you return to Me.”
You and I are a piece of work which is still undergoing construction. God sees what you can become. The question now is, are you yielding to the plan and purpose that God has for you? Don’t resist what He is trying to do. Let Him have His way with you. Don’t be afraid, because His motive is always based on His love for you. He is the perfect Father who wants to bless you and give you perfect gifts.
You and I were created on purpose for a purpose and that is to bear the image of Christ and be His hands and feet while we are here on this Earth and do His good works. Be reminded that the work we do is meant to be with Christ; not against Him and not on our own accord “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:9-11).
Our theme: Under Construction. Remember, you are a work in progress. You are under construction. God’s inviting you to join the work He’s doing around you and inside of you. Sometimes He’ll hand you a hammer and ask you to nail some things down in your life. He may hand you the bolt cutters and tell you to cut some things out of your life. God may give you a level and tell you, you need to balance some things out. As you walk in this journey with Him, as you undergo construction, accept the tools He’s handing you. Allow Him to create in you a beautiful masterpiece for all the world to see, but not for your glory, but instead for His.