“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Remember the last time you were in a Christian bookstore? Jesus is everywhere: on witty coffee mugs, flashlight pens, calendars. Materials are available specifically for mom, dad or the kids. It reminds me of Psalm 119 when David asked where he could flee from God’s presence. Is the merchandise in our local family Christian store the Church’s best attempt at revealing God these days?
The city of Ephesus took a similar approach in presenting their goddess Artemis. Ephesus was a melting pot where the East met the West, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Artemis was a conglomeration of ancient goddesses. Like the God of the pop-Christian bookstore, Artemis offered something for everyone. A whole month was even devoted to her, during which a million worshippers would make the pilgrimage to Ephesus.
Maybe you can identify with the Ephesians and the Christian bookstores that try to market a savior. Maybe you’ve spent afternoons handing out spiritual tracts, “winning friends and influencing people for Christ” through free soda, or performing in dramas and skits all for the sake of evangelizing. But is that what it means to be a “contagious Christian?” Do those types of marketing result in the big spiritual transformations you hope for?
Paul had a different idea for the Ephesian Christians than the frenzied marketing of their faith. He called them “God’s workmanship.” The word workmanship comes from the Greek poema, where we get our words poem and artwork. In one sentence Paul turned conventional thinking on its head, telling a city famous for making art of deities that God wanted to make artwork of them.
As it turns out, it’s much harder to submit to God shaping His image in us than it is to shape our personal image into Him. It isn’t easy. God’s holiness sheds light on all our fear, anger, loneliness and lies. We begin to stand out and become different and unique, recognized by the scars of our past and birthmarks we can’t scrub off.
There’s no science to being putty in God’s hands, but a great painting can’t be rushed. It requires many coats and shades of paint, and at several points in the process the art looks ready for the trashcan. But then, a few more finishing touches and all of a sudden it is breathtaking. We have to be able to endure those moments of feeling garbage-worthy, knowing our Creator uses every layer of paint to make the end result all the more beautiful. It just takes time.
Dear Father, thank you for creating me as a beautiful work of art. Continue to mold and shape me as You see fit. I trust you, Lord.