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Our Lives Matter

Our Lives Matter

Ephesians 2:1-10

Our scripture for today includes one of my favorite phrases... or verses... Ephesians 2:10; “For we are God’s handiwork.”

Don’t you just love that phrase? It’s a hope-filled concept. We have value, worth... purpose... because we are the handiwork of God.

The word “handiwork” means “made by someone,” a “work” of someone’s hands. The ESV & NKJV goes with “workmanship.” The NRSV has “we are what he has made us.”

We are the “handiwork” of God... his workmanship, we are what He has made us!

The word “for” connects verse 10 with the previous verses... especially the fact that we have been saved by grace. Salvation’s not only deliverance from death into life. It also involves being newly created in Christ.

“For we are God’s handiwork...” - the next phrase - “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” - raises some questions. Why do good works feature so prominently in a scripture lesson that stresses God’s Grace? Good question, right?

God’s Word goes to great lengths to make it clear that our salvation does not come by works. Verses 8-9, of our Lesson for today: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Couldn’t be more clear!

But we miss the full implications of salvation if we stop reading in verse 9!

It’s true: our works cannot save us... and we do not earn our salvation... it’s free and unmerited. But our salvation always leads us to a life of good works, works that God himself has prepared “for us to do.” “For we are God’s Handiwork, or workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

That doesn’t negate being saved by Grace alone through faith in Christ alone in anyway, what-so-ever! But in simply receiving this gift of salvation... you and I are called to live both with, and for, God, in a new, more complete way!

When we receive the grace of God’s salvation, we’re NOT just delivered from a bad, former way of life, into some kind of neutral existence. Christ didn’t suffer and die for us to live a lukewarm, vanilla, anything goes with it kinda life! That’s nonsense. Rather, we are created anew in Christ for a new way of living, a way that embodies and emulates the work of Christ himself... and produces fruit in keeping with Spirit we’ve received. Good works in other words.

The truth that God has created us, fashioned us, and prepared us for good works in Christ... is completely consistent with the rest of Ephesians. God has chosen us to be holy so that we might belong to him and be devoted to his purposes (1:3). God determined that we should exist “for the praise of his glory” (1:12, 14). In the latter chapters of Ephesians, we’ll learn much more about the nature of these good works that glorify God.

Our good works are an expression of who and Whose we are! We belong to Christ... in both this life and the next. All of our giftings and graces belong to him, too, and He has plans, including the everyday living of our lives... our living of this life this very day... as you and I use our giftings, and talents, and graces for his Good in this world.

Yes, you are individually God’s handiwork. And, yes, God has good works for you yourself to do. But that’s not the whole story. As becomes clear in the next part of Ephesians 2, God has good works for the community of the faithful to do together. In fact, you and I cannot walk in the good works God has for us apart from intentional fellowship with other members of Christ’s body, as Ephesians 4:16 tells us:

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” In other words, we all have work to do within the Body of Christ... the church.

Of course, in language that is both foreign - and yet strangely familiar, Ephesians 2:1–3 describes the deadly life that many of us know all too well. Even when we know that Christ has defeated the effects of sin and death... even when we’ve received Christ’s offer of new life, that’s free, and abundant, and eternal... we still feel the pull and enticement of sin... of the lusts and disobedience that defines life without Christ. We still feel the power of the world drawing us into toxic behaviors. And we sometimes give-in to toxic, harmful actions and desires that gratify our worldly selves. Right?

But our scripture for today reminds us that we don’t LIVE in the depressing realm of death, not as Christians. We live in the Good News of what God has done in Christ... and the hope that comes from a transformed way of living. At the center of this good news is the truth that we have been saved by grace. Though we cannot save ourselves, God can and does save us through Christ.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make it this: Our life in this world cannot remain unaffected by the salvation we’ve freely received. God’s gift of salvation by faith alone ALWAYS leads to a different way of living. And as we’ve been made alive in Christ, raised with Christ, and seated with Christ... we’ve been molded by the hands of God... we’ve become his handiwork, created in Christ for good works that God had planned for us.

We don’t have to settle for a shallow, empty, miserable life. Rather, we can begin to live now in Christ and with Christ. We can begin now to experience the power of the resurrection that’s for us because we have been raised with Christ. We can begin now to live as God’s workmanship, contributing to God’s work in the world and, therefore, knowing that our lives really matter. Our lives matter. Our living matters...

Our hands, our feet, our voices... our very lives... have purpose... as we glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.

The grace of Christ saves us.

The grace of Christ changes us.

The grace of Christ equips us.

The grace of Christ works through us...

as we serve Christ in this life. Amen.

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