“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.”
– Ephesians 2:10, NLT
If there is one strand running through all of the great artists it is the pursuit of perfection. They desire to produce the finest piece of work they can, their masterpiece, their magnum opus, the pièce de résistance.
Michelangelo took four years to paint the Sistine chapel and then, much later in life, after Rome was sacked, he returned and spent six further years adding a whole wall to the already impressive ceiling. Hemingway sent off the manuscript for A Farewell to Arms in January 1929 and yet spent the next five months writing and rewriting the final short paragraph.
It’s this attention to detail that makes great artists great – they work and they work and they do not finish until they’re satisfied their work is the best it can be.
The bible tells us that God is like this with us. Human artists can’t create perfection, they can only do their best, but God knows perfection for each of us and He will not stop until He’s achieved it.
“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”
– Philippians 1:6 (AMP)
The moment we were saved God started a work in us; salvation wasn’t the crowning moment of our journey, it was the start. It was God saving us, for the rest of our lives on this earth He wants to work to bring us to perfect completion. He knows the best that we can be. He knows everything about us – our strengths and our weaknesses, our good points and our bad points – but more than this He knows what is possible! He knows what he can make us into, what we can end up as.
The bible talks, several times, of us being clay in the Potter’s hand. (Isaiah 64:8) God is the artist. He is the ultimate artist. Look at creation; after thousands of years of humans messing it up, earth is still more awesome than anything man made. He is the one who knows what we will be at the end, He has the vision.
Neither the plaster nor the paint knew what Michelangelo was doing, the chapel is so large (12,000 square feet) that you can’t take in the whole painting at once, only the artist knew what it was going to be like; only in his mind did it exist until he finished and approached the pope and said ‘ta-da!’ – or whatever artists say after completing a masterpiece. We’re the same, we don’t know all of what God wants us to be when His work is done; we don’t know the wonders he can achieve so our only option is to let Him work them.
So if the artist fashions the art, the potter moulds the clay, what is our part in all of this? Be good clay.
In Jeremiah 18:3-4 the potter discards the marred clay and makes a new vessel. God could find other people to make into His masterpieces; if He can make even the rocks praise Him then he could find other clay, but the point is that He has chosen you. God begun work in each of us because He saw what it could be when it was finished. Being a God of faith He looked at what was and saw what could be and called it into being.
We need to submit ourselves to Him. He has the vision and the purpose for our lives and He has the tools and the abilities to make it work. Our part is to submit, to be good clay, to make of our lives something he can work with and use. We do this by listening to the word and applying it to our life, we do this by praying for His guidance and for Him to be in control, by accepting that God knows what is best. We need to be humble enough to know that God who shaped mountains, who crafted the flowers and the animals, God who looked at an earth without form and void and saw that it could be beautiful, God who made the most beautiful things in existence, that same God has looked at each of us and seen what He can make us.
Don’t resist the will of God or the hand of God, He knows what is best even when we can’t comprehend it and sit baffled thinking how can this be getting me anywhere? God knows. He is in control and He knows what you’re going to be when He reaches that perfect completion.
When God makes something He does it right. God makes masterpieces and He wants you to be one of them.