Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Not Just for Looks

Almost a month ago, there was a big story about a piece of digital artwork that was purchased using some sort of cyber currency for a whopping $69 million. The digital artwork, “Fire Beach”, sprang to the front page of almost every news website and news program. The artist, Sara Ludy, became an overnight sensation and could easily, if she so desired, buy an island. The artwork doesn’t exist in the traditional sense on canvas. It is purely digital. You can look at it online, but it does not hang on a wall in a private collection.

Over the centuries, paintings and sculptures have skyrocketed in price. People wanting something truly exquisite have spent a tiny, or not so tiny, fortune to own something that very few will ever enjoy. Even the not-so-desirable pieces of art have gone up in price. I guess everyone has his or her own idea of beauty in art.

We often refer to paintings or sculptures done by those we deem as the best in their respective fields as masterpieces. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a masterpiece is “a work done with extraordinary skill.” When people go to an art museum or a gallery, they marvel at the attention to detail and the time for the artist to paint or sculpt their masterpieces.

In time, we tend to use the word, “masterpiece”, to refer to anything that gives us pleasure. I have even heard people use the word to describe a particular item on a menu or a culinary creation. Some chefs are heralded as true artists and each item that comes from their kitchens is called a “culinary masterpiece”. Experts and food critics will often call these masterpieces the chef’s “magnum opus”. Although we tend to use the word, “masterpiece”, to describe a great many things, it still retains its meaning of a “work done with extraordinary skill”.

In chapter two of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, he writes, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

In most translations, the word, “workmanship”, is used in the place of “masterpiece”. Although both words are describing the attention to detail that a master has for creating something priceless, I feel that the word, “masterpiece”, conveys a deeper and more significant meaning.

By referring to us as “God’s masterpiece”, we take on the value of truly being priceless. Great effort and extraordinary skill went into creating us. It is only through God’s efforts through His son, Christ Jesus, that we are created anew. As His creation, we are valued by Him more than all of the finest gold and silver combined. We truly are His masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Unlike a masterpiece in the conventional sense of the word, we weren’t created to hang on a wall or sit on a pedestal quietly in a museum. We were created to do good things that He had planned for us to do. We have a purpose in life and it is not to look pretty on a wall or in a display. As His masterpiece or workmanship, we are to do those things that He intended for us to do in accordance to His will. By serving God and doing what He wills in our lives, our value, unlike artwork, never changes. Our value does not fluctuate with a finicky market. As His masterpiece, we don’t hang in a museum admired by all one day and then discarded and put into a garage sale the next. Our value is more than that.

When you consider the value of something, it is often determined arbitrarily by experts. Some may say that a particular piece of art is priceless while others may see it as total rubbish and not worth the cost of the material used to make it. Just like art, there is nothing that we can do to increase our value in God’s eyes. We can’t do a single thing to earn value in God’s eyes. Our value to Him is determined strictly by His love for us. That is all. We can’t earn our way to Heaven to be with the Father through good deeds. We can’t add to our value by devoting ourselves to taking care of the sick. Our value only comes from Him.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. As God’s masterpieces, we are not exempt from doing good. We were created anew in Christ Jesus to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. We are to do good things all the time. 

James, in chapter two of his book, writes, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

In order for you to truly be God’s masterpiece, you must have faith and do good deeds. By having faith and doing good daily, we show to the world the extraordinary skill of our Heavenly Father as He created us as His handiwork. 

So, my words to you are very simple. Don’t just pretend to be a masterpiece by hanging on a wall or sitting on a pedestal. Have faith and do good deeds and truly be that masterpiece that God created with great care and extraordinary skill. When you do those things, you can easily stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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