For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It is mind boggling to me to think that God has planned for each person in the world a specific handiwork, or a way of life that is suited especially for each person. We can get hung up on professional abbreviations which indicates what the world thinks is of more value than another.
For example, some might say that a PhD. attached to your name is of more importance than an MA, or a BS. We can get hung up on professional abbreviations, thinking that they raise our level of value in the world above those who do not carry the same abbreviations after their name. Some of them are very common to all of us. We are familiar with Phd., which indicates a high level of educational attainment in some field of study.
As I read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians it seems he may be warning the Ephesians and us against over valuing our professional categorization. He wants us to remember that God has created each person to do a specific handiwork. We do not necessarily need to categorize people by a professional abbreviation which leads us to think that the person who carries that abbreviation after their name, is better at their handiwork than one who does not carry that abbreviation. He gets to the heart of each person’s handiwork value by saying that all of us were created by God for a purpose, to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.
We are God’s handiwork. We do not create ourselves. To be created by God means than we yield ourselves over to God to be His handiwork.
Being created by God to do God’s handiwork is the most important category for all of us, and no other category is more important than this. Being created as a handiwork of God for God’s purpose means that we give ourselves over to God’s purpose for our life. Being created in the image of Christ for good works is the key to fulfilling our true identity. It means that at the right time God will give each of us what we need to accomplish God’s work. It may include a PhD, or some other level of education or it may not.
I was blessed, as many people are, with the opportunity of working in two professions in my lifetime. Right after college I taught in public schools. Later, after more education, I taught students at the college and University level. In those years of teaching God was preparing me for my last career as a Lutheran pastor. The handiwork God gave me in the first two professions, helped me gain skills and abilities for the work that one might abbreviate as COG (Child of God), or SBG (Saved by Grace), or perhaps FOC (follower of Christ). Each of those abbreviations could have helped explain how the handwork of God was being created in me. Yet the general public would not recognize those abbreviations as important, or at least not as valuable as a PhD in or a specific field of study.
If we were to see someone signing their name followed by COG, SBG, or FOC we probably would not think of it as more important or less important than a PhD because our abbreviation system is shaped by society, or educational systems, rather than being a handiwork of God in us. I wonder, can we begin to see that our abbreviations only help define what skills we have learned. They do not define the handiwork which God creates in us. Can we put ourselves, our ego, or our social status behind being a COG, FOC, or SBG?
- What professional abbreviations do you carry with you? Are they more important to you or to others?
- How can their credibility help others see God’s handiwork in you?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.