“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
After my previous blog post, I felt I should follow-up with these verses from Ephesians. To counteract the idea that we have to “do” in order for our faith to be valid. To realize my good deeds can’t be what saves me. To see my faith for what it truly is – a gift from God.
And yet this truth doesn’t negate the previous section I used in James 2:14-26 which tells about the relationship between faith and deeds. No, if anything these two passages complement each other. Because Ephesians 2 shows that God obviously intends for us to do good works with our faith, it just can’t be what defines our faith.
In John 6:28-29 Jesus himself clears up some confusion about this: “Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” This seems to imply first we must simply believe. It is only afterwards that we are empowered to become “God’s handiwork” to the world.
I also recently read about the Ephesians 2 verses in Emily Freeman’s book, A Million Little Ways. She tells how the word masterpiece (or handiwork) comes from the word poiema in the original Greek text, from which we also get our English word poem. Then she says:
“God calls you his workmanship, his poiema. What happens when God writes poetry?
We do. We happen.
We are walking poetry, the kind that moves, the kind who has hands and feet, the kind with mind and will and emotions. We are what happens when God expresses himself.”
I love it! To remember I am God’s poem to the world and to think of myself in this way. How can this change my view of myself and of how I interact with the world? It should free me, challenge me, inspire me, release me and encourage me all at once!
So, do I do a good job as “God’s poem?” At times yes and at times no. The “yes” times are the ones where I feel most alive, most free, most joyful in my life. The “no” times are the ones where I am discouraged, frustrated or feel worn out. That should tell me something right there!
The following section in A Million Little Ways is aptly entitled, “When A Poem Forgets Her Purpose.” (I guess the author knew where my mind would go with this analogy!) In this section Emily states: “We are colanders filled with glory-water. Our best efforts are spent trying to cover the seeping holes with not enough fingers. God’s glory demands display. Yet sometimes when we get a glimpse of it, when we taste something we come alive doing, when we feel that sense of purpose wake up within us, we become terrified … Surely God has another way to display his glory. Surely he doesn’t intend to do it through me.”
And yet He does! We are intended to be His poem to the world. We are made for the purpose of displaying God’s glory. However, this realization that we are God’s poetry shouldn’t put pressure on us. No, because a poem itself has already been written and simply needs to be read in order for the power hidden within it by the poet to be unleashed.
It is the same with us. We are already created and formed as God’s precious poem. All we need to do is allow our true, authentic selves to be seen by others in order for Christ’s power within us to be revealed. Then it is God’s “glory-water” which will seep out to change the waiting world around us.
**I’m linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart today. Click on the image below to find some other great posts in the linkup**