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Summary: God is at work in our lives so that we may become more and more like Jesus... accomplishing his will in us and through us.

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Title: The Making of a Masterpiece Part 2

Text: Philippians 1:6

Thesis: God is at work in our lives so that we may become more and more like Jesus…accomplishing his will in us and through us.

Series: Belonging, Believing and Becoming

I invite you to journey with us as people who value:

• Belonging to a caring faith community. (Making everyone welcome and cared for…)

• Believing the truth of God’s Word. (The Written and Living Word of God…)

• Becoming more like Jesus Christ.

Introduction

Last week I spoke of Michelangelo and his work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I spoke of how just as Michelangelo envisioned what the finished fresco would look like, God envisioned how we, as his masterpieces, would look upon completion. God envisioned that each and every follower of Jesus Christ would be conformed to the image of Jesus.

Today we will look at how that conformity happens.

Some say that Michelangelo’s monumental achievement is the Pieta… a statue of Jesus and his mother Mary.

The Pieta was commissioned in 1498 and for that sculpture Michelangelo searched quarries for just the right type of stone. It is said that he spent months selecting the marble and oversaw its extraction and arranged for its transportation to his studio.

When the cube of marble arrived he went to work… for two years he labored over it. He chiseled away in the sweltering heat of summer and the shivering cold of winter. The overall structure, down to the smallest detail is a work of unsurpassed craftsmanship and beauty.

The sculptor begins with a pitching chisel to knock-off the unwanted chunks of marble. Then the sculptor uses a tooth chisel and then moves to rasps and rifflers and rough abrasives and finally smooth abrasives to bring the piece to perfection.

Similarly God is at work in all things chiseling and rasping and sanding away to transform our character into conformity with Jesus.

So we, as God’s masterpieces, might see ourselves as pieces of marble and God as the sculptor shaping us into the image of Jesus.

II. God’s work “in” us

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finished on the day that Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

There are three things that immediately jump out in my understanding of the nature of God’s work in us.

A. God’s work in us has a beginning and an ending

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finished on the day that Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

William Barclay points out that the two words used to describe God’s beginning and finishing work in our lives are words used in a Greek sacrificial ritual.

• A torch was lit from the fire on the altar and dipped into a bowl of water… cleansing the water.

• The purified water was then sprinkled on the sacrifice and the people to make them clean.

• A sacred silence during which the worshipper offered prayers to god.

• Then the ritual sacrifice was carried out to completion.

This imagery is consistent with Romans 12:1 where Paul wrote, so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1

Though not culturally familiar we understand the concept of an altar upon which a sacrifice is offered to a god. So we might envision an altar upon which we stand offering ourselves to God… not as dead sacrifices but as living sacrifices. And we might envision God them beginning his work which continues until it is finished on the day of Christ’s return.

In between the beginning and completion is an ongoing process.

B. God’s work in us is a process

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. II Corinthians 3:18

We know…

1. We know God’s will is for us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:29

Last Sunday we noted that it is the express will of God that we become conformed to the image of Jesus… God’s desire is that we become like Jesus. God’s will is that when people see us they see Jesus. Romans 8:28-29

2. We know that God’s work in our lives is a process. II Corinthians 3:18

I’ve always been kind of interested in how some married couples come to resemble each other after many years of marriage. They say it takes 25 years for the process to take place… studies show that couples who look nothing alike when they get married come to resemble each other over time. That’s not good news for Bonnie.

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