Eph. 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

It has often been said (as quoted in the “four spiritual laws”) that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. This is most definitely true, but I think that we have not consistently looked at this statement through the lens of scripture and reality, but mostly through the lens of western cultural thought. We need to rethink all of this to get to the essence of true living and kingdom impact that the Lord intended for us in fulfilling His desires and plans, and in being fulfilled in our destinies.

The above scripture is clear that we believers are His artwork – His masterpiece of poetry and art – that He desires to use to impact the people, culture and world around us. This does not only mean living according to “moral” good works, but the using of our lives, time, talents, graces, giftings and anointings to put His glory, power, beauty and redeeming/restorative love on display in creation. It means being fully developed in the image and likeness of Christ that all we are becomes the vehicle of His kingdom and will in heaven being manifest and done on earth. But, as is likely with most western thought, even though it’s been religiousized by quoting scripture or put in elegant or exciting sermons/teachings, this “God has a wonderful plan” has in many ways, been turned to be a self-centered, self-serving opportunity to do our own independent thing apart from wholehearted submission and obedience to Him as Lord and King.

My question is: Where is the cross in all the “wonderful plan for your life” teachings? Has all the teaching about God’s “wonderful plan for my life” (albeit true in its core meaning), been turned into a justification for self-serving ambition and “finding myself?” Where is the cross of self-denial and self-sacrifice in all the “wonderful plans for my life?” Where is the call to lay down our plans and pursuits to fulfill His heart, His will and His plans for His glory alone? Is it possible, like the past generation’s Dr. J. Harold Smith, that one would go to medical school and graduate, only to be called by God to preach and evangelize and never spend one day seeing medical patients? This is not to say that God never wants us to be happy or fulfilled. Just the opposite. But, the joy, happiness and fulfillment we are ever striving for can never be found in finding satisfaction in anything that pertains to the old Adam or the old creation. It seems the enemy does not have to tempt us with overt evil and rebellion with “worldly” things any longer. There is a subtle temptation more prevalent than ever that plays upon the “unfulfilled self” that even scripture is now being used to justify.

My greatest talents, even though God-given, and even those spiritual gifts that He bestows at salvation or Spirit-baptism, will never produce His fruit, life and kingdom until they have been purified by the cross. Death purifies everything from sin and self.

As God’s masterpiece (workmanship), am I trying to paint a picture, write a poem, preach a message, sing/play a song, ad infinitum, FOR God? Or am I allowing Him, by yielding myself, my talents, my ambitions, my desires, etc., to an inward cross, make me into a masterpiece in the midst of a world gone ugly? I guess it depends upon your perspective….