We’re in the Smoky Mountains this week and bears are everywhere. Not just literal bears, but stuffed animal bears, ceramic bears and wood carved bears you can take home for a souvenir.
There’s a man here in Cosby that will carve you a full sized bear standing up. It reminds me of the story of a man who carved art out of logs using a chain saw. His specialty was carving the shape of an angry bear. He loved for people to ask him how he did it. His answer?
“I just cut away everything that doesn’t look like an angry bear.”
In a similar vein God fashions His people to look like Jesus. He wants to cut away from our personality, demeanor, and lifestyle everything that doesn’t look like Christ.
The apostle Paul speaks to this point in Ephesians 2 when he described their previous depraved life, dead in sin, dominated by the devil, and doomed eternally. But God, through Jesus Christ came on the scene and raised them up from the depths of sin to “sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Then he offered this wonderful affirmation.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”(Eph. 2:10).
Our word today, workmanship, is an interesting word, translated from the Greek word “poiema.” Thayer says it refers to “that which has been made; a work: of the works of God as creator.” Liddell and Scott says it was also used to refer to “a poetical work” from which we derive our English word “poem.”
The NLT translates the word “masterpiece.” The Amplified version says “we are God’s own handiwork.”
God is the master craftsman. He made us. Created us. And equipped us to accomplish his purpose.
You are not only created “in His image, and after His likeness” when you were born into this world, but as a Christian you’ve been born again. Now, God begins the process of remaking you into the character of Christ. He chisels away everything that doesn’t resemble Him.
We understand that in the animal kingdom, God created each kind differently. Some fly. Some swim. Others run or crawl. Each has a purpose in God’s creative plan. The same is true with human beings. And it is especially true in the Kingdom of God.
Last night at the Cosby church, Jerry Baxter, presented a lesson on how you can be like Andrew. Remember him? He was Peter’s brother. Jerry made the point that not much is recorded in the Bible about Andrew. However, Peter is a dominate figure, with a captivating personality, who became an influential preacher and pastor. Yet, we learn that it was Andrew who learned Jesus was the Messiah, then brought his brother to Christ (Jn. 1:4-42).
How many Andrews do we have in the Kingdom? Quietly laboring behind the scenes. Finding their place in the church family. Filling an important role. Humbly serving. Unselfishly sacrificing. But modestly make a difference. Maybe a huge difference in the life of someone who touches untold thousands of other people.
Churches have made the mistake of trying to get everyone to do everything. Some folks are cut out for public work. Others do better privately. Not everyone can be a pastor or a preacher. Not everyone has the talent to lead singing. Or the skill to teach a Bible class. But each one has a place to fill and a role to fulfill.
There are no “big preachers” or “little preachers” in the Kingdom of God. Just preachers. There are no “big Christians” or “little” Christians. Just Christians. Just folks discovering their purpose, using their God-given gifts, and functioning in the ministry for which God made them.
Never forget this. You are important to God. You are significant. You have value. And He’s still spiritually crafting your life for His purpose.
If you’re like me, you can echo the words of this children’s song. “He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman