Summary: You’re A Divine Masterpiece! 1) Formed in love; 2) Deformed by sin; 3) Reformed by grace
What’s the most beautiful sculpture you’ve seen? If you’ve been to Florence, Italy, you may have inspected Michelangelo’s David, considered by many to be the world’s best sculpture. I, for one, am partial to the pottery work of Japan. Not far from my parent’s home three hours north of Tokyo is a pottery town called Mashiko. The town is crammed with potters’ studios filled with practical yet aesthetically pleasing bowls, plates, and cups. Yet none of these pieces of artwork can compare with God’s masterpiece. Am I referring to the Grand Canyon, or the Canadian Rockies? No. I’m talking about the human race. Today we’re going to learn that we are divine masterpieces: formed in love; deformed by sin; but reformed by grace.
Last time we visited my parents we went to the pottery town of Mashiko. We were hoping to pick up some unique dinner plates to bring home with us. We ended up not buying very much because we couldn’t afford the prices they were asking. The starting price for most serving platters, for example, was $120! It didn’t seem like pottery should cost so much because, after all, it’s nothing more than clay, not gold or silver. What you are paying for of course is the love, care, and the creativity that went into making that pottery.
We’re a lot like the pottery of Mashiko. If we were to sell off our various organs and tissues, we could stand to make $45 million! But if we were to break our body down to its basic elements and minerals like oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, we’d only get $5 for it on the open market (http://soundmedicine.iu.edu/archive/2003/quiz/humanWorth.html).
So what makes our bodies so valuable if we’re only made from the dust of the earth? The fact that an almighty creator formed us in love makes us valuable. Just think of the care God exercised in making Adam from the dust of the ground. Did God wear a work apron as he bent over Adam in an open field in the Garden of Eden carefully sculpting his nose, his ears, and his eyes? And how long did it take God to do all this? How long, for example, did it take him just to do the detail of Adam’s eyelashes?
Adam must have been some masterpiece when God was finished with him, but so are we! Do you remember our psalm from last week? In Psalm 139:13 King David wrote: “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” We too have been formed in love and are a divine masterpiece. Sadly, we don’t always see ourselves that way though do we? Instead of thanking God for the body he has given us we wish we had a smaller nose, bigger hands, more hair, less hair, etc. But God made each of us the way he wanted us to be and he did so in love. And so we will want to sing with David: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a).
But it’s hard to praise God when our bodies don’t work the way they are supposed to. I mean I don’t think you would sing a carmaker’s praise if the new car you bought stopped working properly after a few years. But who is to blame for our bulging waistlines and our clogged arteries? We are. For although God formed us in love, we have been deformed by sin. We wrestle with our health because we don’t use God’s gift of food correctly. We eat too much and we don’t exercise enough. Even if we did eat right and worked out often, our bodies would still quit on us. Why? Again the answer is sin. Sin has so poisoned our bodies that they start to die from the moment they are conceived.
But what’s even worse than our physical deformations caused by sin is the spiritual deformation. In our text God illustrated for the prophet Jeremiah what sin had done to the Israelites. While Jeremiah was watching a potter at work he witnessed how the clay in the potter’s hands started to fall apart (Jeremiah 18:4a). It was just like the Israelites. God had taken them in his hands to be a special vessel to carry his Word and the promise of a Messiah. But the Israelites didn’t want any part of it. They had their own ideas for worship. It was more convenient for them to worship the gods of their heathen neighbors than to faithfully trek to Jerusalem to worship the one true God.
We’re a lot like those Israelites. We value what society values: money, and time for ourselves, rather than valuing what God wants us to value: his Word, his worship, our fellow Christians, and the lost who don’t know Jesus. For example instead of loving our neighbors and looking out for their welfare, we curse them for letting their trash blow across our yard. We walk around the schoolmate who has dropped all her papers and books snickering instead of stooping to help.