Life Sunday – 2024 LSB #’s 790, 570, 740
Text – Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
CREATED FOR A PURPOSE
All created things have a purpose. Nothing that someone makes is built without purpose in mind. These intentional designs run from the obvious to the less obvious. We know the purpose of a shovel or a chair or a pencil. They were created for digging, sitting & writing.
Even things that seem pointless, like the hole in the tab of a pop can, are made for a purpose. Did you know those holes were created to be twisted over the mouth of the can to hold a straw? Just because we have not figured out an item’s purpose, does not mean that the item has no purpose. Humanity’s ability to purposefully create is a gift from God.
Since mankind possesses the ability to create with purpose, it’s not a stretch to argue that humanity itself was created with purpose. And that conclusion implies there is someone who created us. We live in a time & place where the mention of a Creator can be unpopular, but that attitude does not square with the obvious fact that created things have a designer.
We perceive beauty in creation, & no one has conceived of an evolutionary purpose for the beauty of a clear night sky. Therefore, beauty is evidence that a Creator exists. Christians believe that this Creator is the God who revealed Himself in the Bible. In all human experience, nothing complex functions well by accident. Human beings are incredibly complex.
According to a study conducted by Monitoring the Future, nearly 45% of middle & high school students say that their life is not useful. That’s a stark increase from the year 2000, when only 25% of those students chose that answer. It is up nearly 10% from the beginning of the Covid pandemic. The research reveals a mindset that has led youth & adults alike to suffer depression & other insecurities. Devaluation of human beings as nothing more than an evolutionary accident has led many to self-harm & other destructive behaviors & addictions. The consequences of this are tragic, & sadly, they hit close to home for many. A soul unconscious of his or her purpose inevitably faces futile disappointment in a broken world.
To counter this, God assures readers of His Word that they do have purpose. In Ephesians, Paul says to those redeemed by Christ, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (2:10 ESV)
In this single verse, God declares to us something incredible. He says that human beings, created in His image, redeemed by the blood of Christ through faith, are His workmanship – His creation. This God, who created the world & all that exists by speaking it into existence, is the same God who created us in Christ Jesus.
Through His Word, He calls us who were dead in sin to life through faith in His Son Jesus. In Genesis, when God created the world, He called each work of His hand “good.” (1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25) When He created Adam, He called him ‘very good.’ (1:31)
Our Father, through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus, now bestows upon believers that same declaration of approval. Because we are God’s workmanship, we can rest in the certainty that none of us are a mistake, not an accident, not a blob of cells, not a bag of chemicals reacting to create an illusion of purpose.
Believers in Jesus Christ are the choice, carefully handcrafted treasure & apple of God’s eye – His creative masterpiece. From the moment you were knitted together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), God began his careful construction of His chosen jewel of redemption. There is tremendous value, meaning & purpose in being God’s masterpiece.
Imagine traveling back in time to witness one of the great artists like da Vinci,
Michelangelo, or van Gogh creating one of their masterpieces. There isn’t one of us who, while witnessing the master attend to his craft, would walk up to him & say, “I think you could use another star in that sky,” or “Perhaps you should consider taking just a bit more stone from that part of the sculpture.”
Nor would we, once they were finished, attempt to add our own brush strokes or chisel marks to the finished piece. We’d simply enjoy the opportunity to witness the master at work, & when he was done, we’d take in the beauty of the work he created – that is to say, we would appreciate its intended purpose.
Yet, people who’d give one of their limbs for such an opportunity can look in the mirror at God’s masterpiece & fail to see the beauty of what our Lord has made. In Christ, you are God’s workmanship, & God Himself calls you to recognize that truth. We know that as God’s creative masterpiece, you were created for a purpose. Yahweh created you for good works.
Often, Christians have confused good works as a means by which to obtain the favor of God, but the Bible doesn’t allow for that misinterpretation. God’s favor is achieved before the works are assigned. The workmanship is completed so the good works can be accomplished.
Just as an instrument cannot produce music until its construction is complete, the believer’s works aren’t good until the Master has accomplished His masterpiece. Good works are the fruit of the Master’s labors. This truth illustrates what good works actually are: God’s purposes being fulfilled through us.
Yahweh creates vessels to accomplish His work, in His way, on His behalf. Believers accomplish good works serving their neighbor as the hands & feet of Jesus. Lutherans call this the doctrine of vocation. The concept isn’t new, but it is transformational. The doctrine of vocation describes the believer’s purpose. The word vocation carries the idea of calling. In the case of Christian vocation, the callings come from God. Everyone has these callings in the areas of society, family & the Church. Being a child is a calling. Being a parent is a calling. Being a student is a calling. Being a citizen is a calling. Each so-called vocation is a calling from God Himself. The role you fill in your church is a calling.
As God crafts each of us in our callings, He places us in the presence of neighbors whom we are to love on His behalf. An example may help to illustrate this. Take the calling of motherhood. They are given neighbors to love, namely their children.
As mothers serve their children by feeding them, dressing them, changing their diapers, potty training them, disciplining & comforting them, they serve as Jesus to their children. According to Matthew 25:40, in being faithful to her duties, the mother is also serving Jesus, who is “hidden” in her child.
Although those tasks seem mundane, it is paradigm shifting. When people search for purpose & meaning in their lives, they tend to look for extraordinary goals – the next mission trip opportunity, the new promotion at work, the charitable venture.
Those are good things & certainly are ways to love our neighbor, but they account for a very small portion of the vocations God gives to believers. The doctrine of vocation teaches that in even the most mundane aspects of life, which are by far the majority, as masterpieces of the Almighty, you & I have a purpose. There is no such thing as a useless human being.
This is what Paul means in the sermon text when he says that God has good works for us to do, which He “prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) The Creator, who chose us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), had a planned purpose for who you were to be.
He knew your vocations & prepared them for you as He knitted you together in the womb
of your mother. (Psalm 139:13) He knew the neighbors who would need His love – physically, spiritually, emotionally – & He prepared you to be vessels of that love & service. God also knew that in fulfilling your purposes, you would serve Him as He is hidden in your neighbors.
Those callings are not something we chose. They are placed in the path on which Yahweh calls you. We “walk in them,” as the text says. In the ordinary, & at times boring stations of life, we are called to be faithful. Also, we don’t always have the privilege of seeing the final product of what our Lord is accomplishing through us.
We see the proverbial back of the tapestry. We see the messy incompleteness. But as we walk in the paths God calls us down, faithfully practicing good as we seek to love our neighbor, you & I are assured that God is working all things “together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Brothers & sisters in Christ you are God’s masterpiece. You were created for a purpose. You are the hands & feet of Jesus demonstrating His love in a world that desperately needs it. Live out that purpose in the strength that comes from your Lord, & wait joyfully for the day when you get to see His finished product. Amen.
Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me & that Thou biddest me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need, in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Just as I am; Thy love unknown has broken every barrier down; now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Amen. LSB 570:1, 4, 6.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet