Rediscovering Work – God’s Work in You

Rediscovering Work – God’s Work in You

Rediscovering Work: God’s work in you

(Eph 2:1-10)

When people get into an elevator with me, I like to engage them in conversation. One of my favorite questions is to ask them if they’ve had a productive day?

Suppose we were just stepped into an elevator together. The door has just closed, you’re standing next to me, and I ask you, “have you had a productive day?” What would you say?

But what is productive? Is being productive more revenue? closing that deal? or simply making your bed?

God wants us to be productive. What He is ultimately seeking is His life lived out in our lives that results in beauty accomplished. God works powerfully in us to work beautifully through us. So, let’s talk about God’s power at work in us and then His beauty worked out through us.

God works powerfully in us to work beautifully through us.

We begin with God’s power at work in our lives.

1. God raises the dead “you were once dead” (2:1)

Before a person is alive to God, he or she is dead to God. No one becomes a Christian who has not been dead first. The only prerequisite to becoming a Christian is that you must be dead. The death we are talking about is spiritual death, the walking dead.

What is a dead person? A dead person is a person who is unresponsive to life. If you don’t believe me try this exercise at the next funeral you attend. Walk up to the corpse and poke it. Talk to it. Offer it something to eat. Pour water on it. Scream at it. What you will discover is there is no response whatsoever.

The Bible has two categories of people, those who are dead to God (unresponsive to him) and those who are alive to God (responsive to him).

How do you know if you are dead to God, though you may be breathing? You do not respond to what he does in your life. You are dismissive. He blesses you (health, knowledge, great vacations, wonderful people, wealth) and you don’t thank him. Or he has been wooing you to notice him in his love and holiness, but you show no interest. You ignore him and his goodness. You are dead to God. He pours out His goodness and you respond with indifference. Like going to a great party and being introduced to the host – but you just look away, say nothing, and head for the bar.

But such a person is not only dead to God, they are alive to evil. Being alive unto evil is dismissing God’s will and gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. I know all about that.

Before I became a Christian, I was dead to God but alive to evil. I lied. I stole. I fought. I hated. I lusted. I wanted no part of God, and my life showed it. If you would have known me as a fifteen-year-old you would have said, “that kid is bad.” And you would have been right.

Just like you, nobody taught me how to be evil. I did not attend a kindergarten or a grade school where they taught evil. It came naturally.

One of the early Church Fathers, Athanasius remarks that we human beings, who were created out of nothing, corrupt ourselves back into nothing by our rebellion and defection . . . By spurning God’s Word, we become ‘bereft of being’. We begin physically to disintegrate, to ‘abide in death and corruption.’ (Plantinga, Not the Way it’s Supposed to Be, p 48).

“You were once dead”- once implies that spiritual death is a thing of the past. For those who have put their trust in Christ, radical change has occurred.

2. God gives an indestructible life “we were made alive in Christ” (2:4-7)

Power and beauty meet up in what happens next. Paul tells his readers that they were made alive in Christ! Wow! What we could never do, God did. Just as He raised Christ from the dead, so too He raises us up with Christ. He has the power to give us life from the dead.

What does this mean? It means that, if we place our trust in Christ, we have the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection imputed to us. Resurrection is triumph. Over what? Three things.

Resurrection is triumph over death. In the same way that Jesus overcame the power of death in his resurrection, so too we are bonded to him. His resurrection is our resurrection.

Resurrection is triumph over sin; over the effects of sin – which are separation from God, and over the lure of sin – we lose our appetite to do evil.

Resurrection is triumph over despair. No longer do we have to live life without hope. We have a reason for getting up every day.

The gospel – Christ’s life given for our life – the exchanged life is incomparably beautiful. How so? Well, because it is rich. It is the riches of his mercy. What is mercy? Mercy is not getting what we deserved to get.

The gospel is also the riches of his grace. What is grace? Getting what we could never earn. Jesus saves us from the wrath of God – mercy. Jesus gives us a life with God – that is grace.

And then we see that the gospel is beautiful in what it chooses. Who does God choose? He chooses you and me! He chooses the ugly and the weak. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 5:6 “You see, just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly . . . while we were still sinners (aka, ugly, dead to a life with God), Christ died for us.” (V.8) God chooses sinners. You and me. That is astounding. That is powerful. That is beautiful. He chooses us!

  • God works beauty in us and through us – “We are God’s masterpiece” (2:8-10)

God works powerfully in us to work beautifully through us.

“We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus”. The word for workmanship is the Greek word poiema, from which we derive our English word “poem”. What is a poem? It is a literary work of art. You are in Christ a work of art, God’s masterpiece. For what purpose? To do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.

God works powerfully in us to work beautifully through us.

Right where you are, God wants to work beautifully through you. Let’s look at three areas of our lives where God wants us to do good and beautiful things: ethics, strength (resolve) and vocation.

Our world needs ethical beauty. It will contrast with the deception of the world in which we live and shine forth beautifully. (IL Stuart as a young man working for a bank president: “If someone calls and askes for me, tell them I’m not in.” No. Why? Because if I can lie then you know that I am a liar. And if I can lie for you, then I can lie to you!)

Our world needs the beauty of resolve carried through. This has to do with temptation. When tempted to do something that would tarnish the reputation of Christ, you have the power to withstand temptation – even if it costs you a client, the promotion, the raise. Don’t you know that God has your back!

Temptation is always linked with expediency; wanting short-term gain. Giving in to temptation is expensive. It comes at the expense of integrity. When we give in to temptation we make our selves unworthy of trust.

Our world needs the beauty of God’s plan fulfilled through our lives. God has prepared good works in advance for us. He has called us to follow him and in so doing be an extension of His goodness, strength and beauty.

God works powerfully in us to work beautifully through us.

Conclusion:

Think of God as a kind of investment banker. He has the greatest asset this world will ever know. It is his Son, Jesus. He sends Jesus to do something incredibly strong and beautiful – do die a sinless death for sinners; to take upon himself the guilt and treason that we have produced and cancel the debt that was against us. The greatest transaction that God wants to carry out is to save you from yourself and your sin and take you into his love and indestructible life.

And what is His intention in all of this? He wants to produce the dividends of love and grace in our dog eat dog world through us.

The next time you and I get into an elevator together, I just might ask you, if your day has been productive. And you just might answer, “Oh, yes. I was able to do beautiful things today. To put God’s beauty on display by living in the truth, with great resolve to fulfill my vocation.

That’s when I will know what the apostle Paul knew:

God works powerfully in us to work beautifully through us.

Prayer

“Lord God, Giver of life and beauty, you have raised me from deadness. Now I am alive to you and to what you want to accomplish through me. I confess that I am a worse sinner than I want to admit. But I am also more loved than I could possibly imagine. I am your work of art, created to do beautiful things with my life. May today be a day of beauty and strength in your presence. Amen.”