“Shaped to Serve” (Eph 2:10)
Last week in Body + Bride we explored the ideas that we have been created to be in community. We need each other. And God is particularly interested in forming us into a community of faith because it is in His own nature. But is this just some type of spiritual system of communism? Or a spin off of a hippy commune lifestyle? Don’t I, the individual, matter? Do I have a significant, purposeful part to play in all of this?
Today I’d like to focus in on YOU. The individual. God has created you to be in community, but He isn’t done being creative with you as an unique, special, person. We see from Scripture that God is shaping YOU for a reason – to create beauty for Him! YOU are His “masterpiece” which He desires to express Himself through. And to do so He has prepared a custom-fit job for YOU.
When I was a kid I remember watching a funny film called “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” It takes place in the African bush were small pygmy tribes are eking out an existence on next to nothing. They have this strong worldview that the gods provide everything for them and that everything is good and has a proper usage (even cobras!) One day a small Cessna flies over and the pilot tosses out a empty glass Coke bottle. The unsuspecting pygmies receive this gift from the gods which seems to have no function and in fact causes great problems amongst the tribes people. They try to use it for everything other then holding Coke and it only creates tension in the tribe. It turns out to be a useless gift and they decide it should be thrown off the edge of the world!
Aren’t we just the same? Often times God gives us a gift but we are clueless about how to use it. And our improper usage causes us to abandon it. God has uniquely designed you to fit into the Body (church). But many of us are not actually living out our part. And I believe that when we don’t’ we will find ourselves missing out on joy. Fortunately, we have a owners manual (BIBLE) and the designers spokesperson (Holy Spirit) to explain it all to us! God is not crazy! He is amazingly creative!
Lets look at what the Apostle Paul has to say about God’s creative hand shaping Your life right now:
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” – Eph 2:10 NIV
Imagine that God saved you. But left you as you were. Bound by sin, controlled by Satan, an object of wrath! NO, we are Loved, made Alive, Raised & seated with Jesus – we are SHAPED by Grace.
Paul lets us know that” We are God’s workmanship…” The Greek word for this is Poiema – an expressive creation, a Masterpiece, a “poem.” You are the intentional product of God’s creativity!
The Psalmist declared that we are “Fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14). God who made all things is now in the process of shaping YOU! He is building into you wonderful possibilities. Like a Poem or Masterpiece God wants to express Himself through YOU!
When God got a hold of Paul’s life he described Paul as His “chosen instrument” (Acts 9:15). Do we realize that God is selecting us for specific tasks because each of us are useful for Him in different ways? Imagine a composer who has 50+ instruments, but chooses the right instrument to properly express a certain emotion or message at a very specific time in a performance. Or a painter selecting the proper brush and hue to make the shimmer on the illusionary landscape come alive. Likewise, we are God’s handiwork, shaped and selected by Him for His pleasure.
Sometimes we may not always get what we are shaped for. We may not even like it. We may even forget who actually does the shaping. There are libraries of self-help books. At least half of them are in Christian bookstores. Their tiles and topics vary, but the bottom line is that are all about how I improve (self-shape) my life. But, who should do the shaping? GOD!
God Himself illustrates this when He called a young man, Jeremiah, to take a walk down to a Potters workshop. Read: Jer 18:1-6 God likens the nation of Israel (and us by extension) to moldable clay in the Potters hand. Clay is one of the most common, valueless material around. It doesn’t have an opinion, a will, a set of desires. But the Potter does. The Potter is in control & has an INTENTION. God has an intention for you. There is a design in His shaping. A purpose in His pulling and stretching of your life.
So, what is the point of all this shaping? Ephesians 2:10b “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” Notice that the workshop or environment of all this shaping takes place in Christ. Another way of say this is that it happens when we are in a relationship with Jesus. When we rub shoulders with Him, experience Him, are identified with Him. That’s when the real molding of our characters begins.
Now each of us are unique. But there is a common thread of design in all of us. It’s like multiple works by a single artist. Each photo, sculpture or painting may vary in theme, but you can see a common “fingerprint” impressed upon all the works which point back to the Master. So, what is God’s “fingerprint.” What is the point of all His shaping in Your life?
The point of this shaping is “to do good works.” Now, don’t confuse this with some theological debate about Salvation. It has been said by a wise man, “we are not saved by good works, but saved to do good works.” Now, when I think about the idea of “WORK” I think of other words like labor, sweat, blisters, tiredness. But lets take a closer look at Ephesians 2:10. Paul like a master poet selects a specific phrase in the Greek language for “good works.” Basically it speaks of “pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy production.” Now that doesn’t sound like work!
And if you continue in the verse it’s clear that this is a happy labor is not done alone. It’s a group thing. Eugene Peterson in his translation of the Bible, the Message, words it this way: “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing” – Eph 2:10
Do we realize that we are co-laboring with Jesus! We get to learn and work with the Master.
Another thing that Paul suggests about this “good work” is that it is a work “which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) Another translation says it this way “…which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (NKJV)
Our co-laboring with Jesus is all planned out. It’s already prepared. All we have to do it walk into them! This is the DIVINE INVITATION – to join God in the work He is doing. It eliminates all strife, scheming, and fleshly effort. It’s simply moving and being apart of what He is doing at the moment.
In the Scriptures the phrase “Walk” refers to make one’s way, to make due use of the opportunities. God is got the perfect “set up” for you to join in on. Will you join in? Will you seize the opportunities He bring to your life? Possibly you don’t see the “open doors” before you. If you are feeling spiritually blind to the grand design of God in your life simply ask God to reveal it to you by the Holy Spirit.
Remember, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind imagined what God has in store for those who love Him.”
For further thought:
Q: What has God been shaping you for?
Q: What position in society has He placed you?
Q: Why do you think He brought you here to BA?
Read: John 15:1-8 Q: Are you taking time to be connected to the Vine?
Q: Are you walking in His pre-planned works for you?
Q: How can you start today?