Friday, March 16, 2012

God's Work of Art

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"We are God's work of art," is the delightful way that the Jerusalem Bible translates Ephesians 2:10. Another translation has "God's masterpiece." The original Greek has "God's product."
I think Ephesians 2:4-10 are the clearest explanation of what St. Paul means by grace. For many years I have used this passage with people who are trying to understnd what total dependence on God means. Twice in these seven verses Paul says, "It is through grace that you have been saved." The first time he says it, he is so eager to get it out that he interjects it right in the middle of another sentence (a nightmare for lectors). Grace means gift, something freely given. "This is not your own doing," says Paul, "it is the gift of God."
We were helplessly "dead in sin." It was "because of the great love God had for us that God raised us up with Christ." God always takes the initiative. "Merit" was a big word in the Catholicism in which I grew up. It took me many years to realize that if God waited for me to merit it, I would never be in relationship with God.
In verse 10 Paul shows how this unearned relationship spills over into good works, "We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus, to devote outselves to the good deeds for which God has designed us."

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