Monday, February 9, 2015

Not For Display Only

It happens a lot when I'm antiquing.  Maybe you've been there, too.  You see something really cute that would fit just right in a place you've been trying to fill for months and you rummage around for the price tag to see how much it costs when, lo and behold, the words "For Display Only" are written in red.

UGH.

Or, as has also happened to me when I find something that doesn't have a price tag and so I take it to the cashier to ask how much it is and they politely say, "I'm sorry, that's not for sale."

UGH.

Then the kicker of them all, and you only know the meaning behind these initials if you've done a lot of antiquing - NFS - not for sale.

UGH.

Often times I think to myself, "what good is it then if you won't sell it to me?"  Well, it's useful for the seller, but frustrating for the buyer.

There's a little word in Greek and it's only used two times in the Bible.  Once in Romans 1:20 and the other time in Ephesians 2:10.  It is the word poiema - translated "made" in the Romans verse and "workmanship" in the Ephesians verse.

I got excited about that word, but I got even more excited about the words following it in the Ephesians passage, "...created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Proetoimasen is the Greek word for "prepared in advance," or prepared beforehand.  We are God's work - he made us, designed us, built us - why?  To do the good works he prepared for us to do long before he made us.

We were made with a purpose, for a purpose.  We didn't just get made because a sperm and an egg met.  Before the sperm and egg met, God had a plan and purpose, a design and a job for us to do long before the one cell began dividing and ended up being you and me.

So how does this have anything to do with how this post started?

I'm glad you asked.

Some of us, many of us, and probably most of us, wonder what our purpose is in life.  What we're here for, what in the world we could possible contribute to a world that has so many shining stars in it already.  Are we only meant to be a display case or a piece that is used to hold something else of more value?

No.

We are the valued object, we are the original masterpiece God himself created to be used for a purpose. We were created to do good works.  Good in God's economy means this -

agathos describes what originates from God and is empowered by Him in your life, through faith.

So, you don't have to wonder if that means God has your bag packed and is sending you off to the Amazon jungle or maybe to seminary.  It's much simpler than that and much more individualized - if you belong to Christ, if you trust Him as your Savior, your good works, those originating from and empowered by Him, what you are doing right now is the good work that was planned for you to do when you were just an idea in God's head.

The design for you was being worked out long before you came to be.

So, the question you may be asking is this?  How do I know if my work is the good work planned for me to do?

Great question, and the most simple answer is this, if the work you are doing originated from God you are empowered by him when you do it.

If the work you are doing originated from you or your grandma or your high school teacher and it has been a struggle from day one and it is sapping you of energy and there is no joy when you think of doing it right now, it may not be the good work God planned for you to do.  Or it may indeed be the work God has for you today but the attitude you may be working in will only see those results.

The transliteral interpretation of Ephesians 2:10 reads like this:

of him indeed we are workmanship having been created in Christ Jesus for works good which prepared beforehand God that in them we should walk.

peripateo means to walk around in a complete circuit, going full circle

When I think of walking in the good works God prepared for us to do because we are in Christ Jesus I don't think of getting out of breath when I walk.  I don't imagine this kind of walk leaving me frustrated or tired or defeated.  Walking in the good works, the works originating from God and empowered by God might leave us physically tired, but energized, like good exercise does.

Walking with God like Adam and Eve did before they were forever tainted by sin, was refreshing and comfortable and delightful.  They enjoyed their communion with God as they walked along in the cool of the day.  I wasn't there, but I like to imagine that as they walked along they visited with God and they talked to Him as He pointed out His creation and they soaked in the beauty of perfection.

We get to have those same kind of walks with God now because we are created in Christ Jesus.

So what I'm not saying and please read this carefully:

I am not saying
1.  You should quit your job today because you are exhausted and struggling.
2.  You should leave everything behind and enroll in the seminary or sign up for a mission trip.

What I am asking you is this:  Are you exhausted and struggling or dissatisfied because you know this is where God has placed you and your struggling is not caused by your job but in fact you are rebelling against what God has designed your good work to be?  Or are you exhausted and struggling and dissatisfied because you know what you are doing is not what you were designed to do but you've been too afraid to step out and be and do what he actually designed you to do?

You weren't meant for display only.  You weren't meant to be a robot either.  Whether you are a ditch digger or a doctor, a housewife or a VIP of a Fortune 500 company, if God designed beforehand what you are doing, he will be the one to empower you to do it.

You are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do.

You are God's poiema (workmanship), ktisthentes (created - which applies only to God who alone can make what was "not there before") in Christ Jesus to do agathois (good) ergos (works) which God proetoimasen (prepared beforehand) that in them peripatesomen (we should walk).

Walking with God is fluid and the scenery changes as we walk along with him, coming full circle as we see how our starting place became our finish line with lots of changing scenery in between.  The word is not singular meaning only one work, but rather it is plural meaning more than one.  There are works God prepared for us to do that we won't do until next year or ten years or thirty years.  The work you are doing right now, the work designed by him and empowered by him will not necessarily be the exact work you will be doing when you're eighty.

But when we walk with God and we know and believe that we are created by him and for his good purpose we can rest while we walk, knowing that the purpose we are in today is being used as a stepping stone for the purpose he has waiting for us next year or next month or tomorrow.

If you're tired and stressed because your purpose, at least what you thought your purpose was is causing it, maybe it's time to reevaluate and ask God to open your eyes to see the purpose for where you are right now.  It's always the easiest prayer to pray to ask God to close doors that need to be closed and stay shut but to open doors that need to stay open.

His mercies are new every morning and so are his purposes for each morning we are given.

Are you the not for sale display model holding up the treasures, or are you the treasure letting yourself be used for the purpose in which you were designed?

Be brave and ask yourself these questions.  I've been mulling them over for quite sometime now and I've come to some conclusions that make me shake in my boots.  But, and this is a big but, I also know and trust that if God has made me in a unique way for a unique task than who am I to try and change his mind? Safe is the easiest way to play and holds the least amount of risk.

But what if we were never meant to play it safe?   If we were, what on earth do we need faith for then?













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