For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We welcome today guest author Gage Arnold from the Center for Faith and Work Los Angeles.
In some of my spare time I’ve done a bit of woodworking. Nothing too in-depth. A coffee table, a few shelves, and a couple end tables. While my woodworking skills could be considered amateur at best, there’s something distinctly satisfying when I sand away rough edges, cut pieces to an exact length, and apply a fresh coat of finish. Things I might normally overlook are high priorities. I’m bringing new life to this piece of lumber.
As we read through Paul’s words to the Ephesians in chapter two, I’m reminded of the precious and dignifying status that comes with being Christ’s workmanship.
We see that Christians are not only ascended to a place of glory by Christ, but that we have been, in Christ, “created for good works … that we should walk in them.”
These good works are simply means by which God invites us to continue in the Genesis 1:27 call to fill and subdue the earth with God’s image and for His glory. This should cause us to pause as we consider the call and the gift of co-laboring with God through the works of our hands.
In her book Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman points out that though we have the call to walk in these good works, we are utterly unable to do so apart from our total reliance on him. For when Christ, through the Holy Spirit, dwells in us, one commentary notes, “his gifts and graces are bestowed upon them, so they, too, bear fruits.”
So being united with Christ is not so much about being saved from something but being saved for something. The for in the case of Ephesians 2:10 are the good works that we lay our hands to. Union with Christ always drives us towards missional engagement. Another commentary notes that our good works are “the fruit of faith.”
Sherman goes on: “The too-narrow gospel tells us what we’ve been saved from: sin, hell, and death. And that is very good news indeed. But the gospel of the kingdom tells us not only what we’re saved from, but also what we’re saved for.”
What’s so beautiful about this missional call is the preceding release-valve from Paul. Verses 8-9 read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The great equalizer is that these good works we are called to are not done as a means of striving towards God but working out of his glorious and amazing grace.
Duty turns to delight through His grace. Take heart that it is by grace you have been saved, and the Lord has graciously prepared works for you to bring Him glory, honor, and praise.
Amy Sherman will be the headlining the Center for Faith and Work Los Angeles’ upcoming 2019 CFWLA Faith & Work Conference: Stewarding Vocational Influence on April 6 at Tapestry LA. Tickets and info can be found at www.faithandworkla.com/annual-conference.
Something to Think About:
What are the implications on your good works knowing you are saved by grace?
How have you made sense of the good works God has called you to through your own work?
Something To Do:
Journal about the ways you hope to see God help you rest in his sufficient grace through the work of your hands.
Register for the Center for Faith and Work Los Angeles’ 2019 Annual Conference.
Our Father in heaven, we humbly come before you today. You promise that we are first your workmanship, made with precious care as a treasured possession. What dignity and assurance you offer to us. Grant us your wisdom to see the good works you promise to prepare for us that we may walk in them as a means of tearing off a piece of the darkness so your light might shine in. We need you, and we offer these petitions in your holy name. Amen.
P.S. from the De Pree Center:
We are pleased to help promote the great work of the Center for Faith and Work Los Angeles, where the writer of this devotion, Gage Arnold, is a frequent contributor. Their upcoming Annual Conference on April 6, 2019 will be excellent. It features several leaders in the faith/work integration movement, including Amy Sherman, author of Kingdom Calling, and Tim Yee, one of the writers of the Life for Leaders devotional. You can register here.