I discovered in college that art was enjoyable. I don’t remember art as a favorite in elementary school and I am sure I had no art classes in high school. But in college, 2D art and Teaching Art were two classes I vividly remember. Contour line drawing, doing color studies and studying various artists helped me appreciate art.
As an example, consider Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh was a Dutch artist who created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which date from the last two years of his life. However, outside of his obvious creative talent, Van Gogh had his issues; alcoholism and depression haunted him. But to be sure as an artist, he created many masterpieces.
This week, our Lutheran schools and churches celebrate the Reformation of the Church. The great reformer, Martin Luther, is remembered for his strong words and beliefs, the placement of God’s word into the people’s hands. Generally, he refocused the Church. The Church is about Jesus, his work, the faith that he gives us, and the grace he keeps showing us. Luther came about this through long years of God working through the Bible to help Luther see the enormity of sin and the magnitude of God’s love toward us. Luther rediscovered the meaning of the Gospel in words such as “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Often the first verses of this selection from Paul are focused upon, and rightly so. We emphasize grace, gift, Christ. Jesus has earned us heaven through his death on the cross. Note also the end of this passage, “...we are his workmanship.” A very close and maybe even more appropriate word choice here is “masterpiece.”
I have a tough time considering myself a masterpiece. The list of things that I do that are not perfect. The thoughts that I have often are not kind. The bad attitude that I can have toward so much.....that doesn’t make me a masterpiece. When I think about a masterpiece, I think of something magnificent, flawless.....and I know I’m not.
How about you? What is your list of things that make you think of yourself in less than beautiful terms? Deceiving others and yourself. Cheating or at least being a bit dishonest? Instead of kindness, do you just try to ignore. Or maybe you just feel shame, hanging your head when thinking about yourself.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. We are God’s masterpiece because of Jesus. We are not a masterpiece because of being a great student, a great friend, an excellent employer or employee--whatever! We are Masterpieces because Jesus says so.
Masterpieces like the ones created by Van Gogh are found on walls and easels for people to look at and admire.
That’s not what we as God’s masterpieces are meant to do. What does the verse say? “For we are his Masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Are you a parent? Parent well. It’s what God has created you to do.
Are you a child? Obey and grow. It’s what God has created you to do.
Are you a part of a team- work team, sports team, family? Do it well because that’s what God made you to do.
I can go on....but you get the idea.
As His precious, priceless Masterpiece, God will continue to take care of all that you need. You see, when he sees you, He sees his Son....and with Him, God is well pleased. And so we listen....and we do what His will.
Doesn’t the notion of being God’s masterpiece resonate with you as something all children should hear about daily- early childhood, elementary, middle school and high school? What priority could be greater than having an education that is enveloped with the comfort of Christ’s grace? Sports? Social acceptance? Perceived value of the academic experience?
I’m glad that my wife and I chose Lutheran schools for preschool through high school. I hope you will catch the Lutheran spirit and share the need for your kids and any kids that you know that a Lutheran education is “just right” for them, too.