Summary: The first of two messages based on Ephesians 2:10. The work that God does in our lives is based on His grace that makes us into masterpieces.
Note: In preparation for this message, I set the atmosphere as such:
1) We hung artwork (Van Gogh, Kandinksy, Salvador Dali) around the auditorium, on easels.
2) We played classical music - ambience.
3) An artist in our church made a painting of three crosses (in remembrance of Good Friday) that I displayed on the communion table to unveil during the message.
4) We purchased canvas and paints and at the end of the message, the entire church contributed to a collage, solidifying our commitment to the church.
Throughout my life, I have had the change to visit some museums in the world. I have visited world famous museums in Washington DC, New York, Boston, Madrid, and Toledo, Spain. I love artwork. I love seeing how completely worthless materials, when put together in such a way by a capable artist, becomes a treasure.
A man takes some regular paint, a typical canvas, and some regular paint brushes – and over a small period of time – “Presto!” – a Van Gogh is created! Or a Salvador Dali! Or a Kandinsky! Valuable pieces of art are created with the most ordinary, worthless materials.
I don’t know if you realize this, but the Bible talks about God Himself being an artist, taking ordinary materials and making them into magnificent displays of His greatness. Look at Psalm 19:1 on sheet – let’s read it together – “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.” How many craftsmen or artists are there in here today? You take after God, who is Himself a Craftsman, the Master Artist.
From the beginning of creation, God shows Himself to be an Artist. Turn to Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created…” – 5 words into the Bible, we see God as artistic, creative. And according to Genesis, He created everything. There is nothing in this world that exists that God did not create, because part of God’s nature is to create and make things beautiful. Genesis chapters 1 & 2 record the creation of the world, and notice in – Genesis 2:7 – turn there (on screen) – “And the LORD God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person.” God acts just like an Artist or Craftsman by taking worthless materials (“dust of the ground”) and making them into something valuable (man). Mankind is part of God’s glorious artwork – even David pointed this out in Psalm 8:5 (on sheet), “For you made us only a little lower than God,, and you crowned us with glory and honor.”
So mankind, as the crowning point of God’s creation, the masterpiece, is placed on the earth that God created, and is given some instructions, one of which is recorded in Genesis 2:15-16 (on screen), The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. 16But the LORD God gave him this warning: "You may freely eat any fruit in the garden 17except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die." The permission to “have anything you want” is followed by a simple warning – “if you disobey Me in this one small area, you will die.” God’s masterpiece would become a major mess.
Listen to this news story dated January 30, 3006:
A visitor to a British museum destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases after tripping up on his shoelace, the Daily Telegraph reports. The three Qing vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had stood on a windowsill at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge for at least 40 years. Their prominent position made them among its best-known artifacts, the paper said. The report was accompanied by a photo, taken by another visitor, of the culprit, an unnamed man in his 40s, attempting to pick himself up among the porcelain debris after last week’s accident. Steve Baxter, another visitor who saw the accident, was quoted as saying: "We watched the man fall as if in slow motion. He landed in the middle of the vases and they splintered into a million pieces." "He was still sitting there stunned when museum staff appeared. Everyone stood around in silence, as if in shock. Then the man started talking. He kept pointing to his shoelace and saying, ’There it is; that’s the culprit!’ (taken from ABC News Online, January 30, 2006).
I could not imagine the complete embarrassment and horror of breaking something priceless like this. It was a masterpiece that turned into a major mess. From masterpiece to major mess – created to be a thing of beauty, preserved over the centuries – in one careless move it went from timeless treasure into tiny pieces of trash - what a tragedy!