7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
In my life, I have had the privilege of visiting many museums around the world. Even though I am not gifted in the area of art I love to look at artwork because it’s there that completely worthless materials are transformed into treasures in the hands of capable artist. Regular paint touches a typical canvas, with some old brushes and over a fairly small period of time out pops a Van Gogh or a Salvador Dali! Valuable pieces of art are created with the most ordinary, almost worthless materials. Throughout the Bible scripture talks about God Himself being an artist, taking ordinary materials and making them into magnificent displays of His greatness. Psalm 19:1 says “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.” Genesis 1:1 starts with these words, “In the beginning, God created…” Only 5 words into the Bible we see God as creative artistic, the One who created everything in all of its beauty and detail. There is nothing in this world that exists that God did not create, and from at the very beginning of creation, God has shown Himself to be a masterful artist. The first two chapters of Genesis record the creation of the world, and in Genesis 2:7 it says “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” God just like an Artist took what we would consider being common worthless materials, the dust of the ground, and made them into something valuable. We are not just part of God’s awesome art we are the crown of His creation as David declared in Psalm 8:5, “For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor.” So mankind, as the crowning point of God’s creation, the masterpiece, is placed on the earth that God created, and is given some instructions, one of which is recorded in Genesis 2:15-17, “The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. 16 But the LORD God gave him this warning:”You may freely eat any fruit in the garden 17 except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die.” Permission to freely enjoy the fruit of God’s creation is followed by a simple warning, if you disobey Me in this one small area, you will die. Disobedience would bring disaster and God’s masterpiece would become a major mess. Listen to this news story dated January 30, 2006: A visitor to a British museum destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases after tripping up on his shoelace, the Daily Telegraph reports. The three Qing vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had stood on a windowsill at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge for at least 40 years. Their prominent position made them among its best-known artifacts, the paper said. The report was accompanied by a photo, taken by another visitor, of the culprit, an unnamed man in his 40s, attempting to pick himself up among the porcelain debris after last week’s accident. Steve Baxter, another visitor who saw the accident, was quoted as saying: “We watched the man fall as if in slow motion. He landed in the middle of the vases and they splintered into a million pieces.” “He was still sitting there stunned when museum staff appeared. Everyone stood around in silence, as if in shock. Then the man started talking. He kept pointing to his shoelace and saying, ’There it is; that’s the culprit!’ Duncan Robinson, the director of the museum, said: “It is a nightmare you are always afraid of in a museum. I have been here for 40 years and now that nightmare has happened.” The vases, from the Qing dynasty, were donated to the museum in 1948. Margaret Greeves, the assistant director, said: They are in very, very small pieces but we are determined to put them back together.” The telegraph
Can you imagine the complete embarrassment and horror of breaking something as priceless as this? Something created to be a thing of beauty, preserved over the centuries went from a masterpiece to a major mess. In one careless move it went from a timeless treasure into tiny pieces of trash, this is the true definition of tragedy. This is our story recorded in all of its horror in Genesis 3:1-7, where mankind went from a masterpiece to a major mess because of a moment of carelessness disobedience. While Genesis 1 and 2 are inundated with words speaking of creation and artistic beauty, the words in chapter 3 after Adam and Eve’s sin, reflect a ruined masterpiece:
- Vs. 7 – “they felt shame…”
- Vs. 8 – “they hid…”
- Vs. 10 – they were “afraid”
- Vs. 14 – “you will be punished”
- Vs. 15 – “you will be enemies”
- Vs. 16 – there will be “intense pain and suffering”
- Vs. 17 – this will be “cursed…”
- Vs. 18 – “you will struggle…”
- Vs. 19 – you will “sweat…”
- Vs. 19 – this will happen “until your dying day…”
What stained the masterpiece was sin and Ephesians 2 reveals the long-lasting effects of Adam’s sin. Paul reminds us in verses 1-3 that we were hopeless and helpless, dead in our sins. The masterpiece that we were in Genesis 1-2 turned into major messes, and in Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul exposes the mess that sin made of God’s masterpiece: “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” Yet in the midst of our helplessness comes the hope because in Ephesians 2:4 we discover two of the greatest words ever spoken: “But God…” These two words, represent God’s grace and kindness and reveal how we can become masterpieces of grace instead of major messes of sin. Just as Margaret Greeves, the assistant director, said: “They are in very, very small pieces but we are determined to put them back together.” So God no matter how big the mess or small the shards of your shattered life can make a masterpiece out of your mess. How has sin in your life made a mess of God’s masterpiece? Is there any sin that you need to confess to God so you can be clean?