Ephesians 2:1-10, Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 3:16-21, 1 John 5:1-5
I was going to start this by saying, “We tend to forget where we came from…” But, if I am being candid, I don’t forget it— I would just rather ignore it.
Ephesus was a booming city and commercial crossroads (think: the culture of New York or LA), and the Ephesian church contained a lot of diversity. The stories of the believers there were must have been a vast array of redemption at work, a passing from death to life. Yet, I wonder if at times they, too, ignored their past. Personally, often due to shame, I don’t always want to remember that I was dead in my sin. God’s mercy is rich, and so often I long to share it with others— yet, at the same time, I want to deny the reality of my bankruptcy. We love to give, but there is often an unhealthy shame in needing to receive.
Maybe the Ephesians thought the teaching of the gospel was juvenile and they had moved on to grander theological debates. Or, perhaps they became distracted, the beauty and tangibility of the city enticing them away from the gospel that changed them.
It’s been said that early in life we are astronauts, looking to the stars and endless possibilities. But as we age, we become archeologists, looking for the significance and meaning of what has already happened. As believers, we are called to embrace both. We must be willing to acknowledge our need for the gospel in our past, while also following it in our future.
Ephesians 2:10 is one of my all-time favorite verses. It says: “For we are His creation (poiēma in Greek), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (HCSB).
The word poiēma is rich with meaning. It is can be translated “handiwork,” “masterpiece,” “workmanship,” and “creature.” It is a deep word, suggesting more than just an impulse or whim, but something created with meaning, purpose, and intent.
When you look at a piece of art, you don’t just look at one part of it—the background, for example. You see how the whole of the piece works together. We must balance seeing our past with seeing our purposeful hope of the future. If we only focus on our past, we could struggle with shame; if we only focus on our future, we may find ourselves alienated and unrelatable. To focus on one aspect only is to miss the composition of redemptive grace in the entire piece.
Lest we become puffed up, Paul reminds us that we are God’s creation and nothing good is of our own doing. Our God-given purpose is to do good works, that He has prepared beforehand. This is a mic drop moment if you get the fullness of it.
You are created to do God’s good works that He has prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them.
Every step you will take for the rest of your life, God has gone before you and prepared the way. The rest of your life, then, is choosing whether to walk in His ways and provision or to try your own way.
May we live in the reality that we are His poiēma, displaying the gospel to the world around us.
written by Britton Sharp