A few weeks ago, I spent a day studying for this Sunday’s sermon. When I finished the work, I noticed that the sermon was much shorter than usual. I considered reviewing the text to add depth. However, I decided to leave the space open. Maybe the Spirit has other things planned for April 21. As you will experience on Sunday, the sermon uses several visual illustrations. I’ll not spoil the surprise. Just a few days after my sermon work, someone asked to share a testimony. The content of their sharing ties in perfectly with the text. Certainly, God had more in mind for this week.
As we move into the second chapter of Ephesians, we find a description of our pre-Christ state. Paul describes,
(Ephesians 2:1 NIV) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
It is hard to imagine ourselves as dead. We often take a less drastic view of our condition. Yet when we get to the end of this text, our lifeless state makes sense. God uses us when we have nothing to offer. He utilizes the raw material of our lives to produce incredible works. Paul reminds us of our passive contribution.
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
And then the kicker. We become God’s craft.
(Ephesians 2:10 NIV) For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Isaiah speaks in similar terms.
(Isaiah 64:6–7 NIV) All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.
Sounds pessimistic, doesn’t it? Sounds like a fairly gloomy understanding. However, Isaiah continues,
(Isaiah 64:8 NIV) Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
God takes our unclean, leaf-like, unrefined, dare I say dead existence. He turns out incredible peices of work. We sometimes feel the pressure of having to measure up. The expectation to produce weighs us down. Jesus once said,
(Matthew 11:30 NIV) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Walking with God is less about production, more about submission. Dependance is far more important than output. In fact, the works that God desires are His works, in and through us. May we allow God to engineer our lives. May we release ourselves to Him. May we experience God’s great works in us as we submit ourselves to the Master craftsman.