This is a perspective talk. What I hope to do tonight is not necessarily call you to some kind of action, but to perhaps help the way you think.
We are all mostly familiar with the account of creation from Genesis 1. In the beginning God created…
He began with light, then moved to the land and sea, then green plants, then the sun, moon, and stars, then the birds and fish, then the land animals and finally human beings.
And he created human beings differently than the other living things. Human beings God created in his own image and gave us dominion over all the rest of creation.
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Then God rested.
Human beings were the pinnacle of God’s creation. Something we humans love to think about. It makes us feel special. Important. We are made in the image of God Himself!
And while that is very true, I think that we humans often like to focus a bit too much on only one part of that statement. The image of God. We write books about this and preach sermons on it and try to figure out just how much like God we really are and of course many people just go all the way and claim to be gods themselves.
But, while the “image of God” part is really cool and significant. It has a way of dwarfing and overshadowing the other truth of that statement.
We are CREATED beings.
We are MADE things.
We are not gods ourselves.
In fact, we are really only ANIMATED DIRT.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
We’re like mud sculptures that look kind of like God. We are made of dirt. Physically our bodies really can be made from dirt and water. All the same elements are there, though obviously in different form. So, quite literally, we are all a bunch of walking and talking mud puppets. And without that breath of life that God breathed into us, we would just be worm food — which is exactly what we become when that breath of life leaves us when we die.
A fact that God reminded Adam of after he sinned:
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
“For dust you are.” Adam, you may be breathing and thinking and walking around, but you are still just animated dirt. Really not much different than a clay pot.
Which is what Paul refers to many years later in his letter to the Romans. Turns out some of them must have been complaining about what kind of dirt sculpture they were…
20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
My friends, you and I a MADE things.
Made by God,
for HIS purposes.
It’s kind of like this swiss army knife.
It too is made of dirt. It is made of materials that were mined from the earth. It was designed, engineered, and fabricated out of those materials by a maker.
And guess what? It was clearly made with some kind of purpose in mind. It was designed for a specific use. A use for the maker’s purpose, not the knife’s. Just like you and me.
And I would say that a human being is a lot like a swiss army knife other than being made of essentially the same materials.
Like the knife, I believe that most human beings are capable of any number of things. In fact, I would argue that most of us do not have only one major purpose for our lives, but rather purposes for our moments or seasons. Just like I can use this knife for cutting something one minute, I can use it as a compass the next, and then as a cork screw the next and so on. Likewise, I believe that God made us humans to be capable of serving him in many capacities depending on the needs of the moment.
But guess who gets to choose what purpose the knife is serving at any moment? It’s not the knife.
What if the knife somehow had the breath of life in it and could think and make decisions, decided for itself that it was definitely supposed to be the screwdriver, and so out it popped its screwdriver. But, what if the maker of the knife actually needed the knife at the moment? If the knife refuses to put back the screwdriver, now it is unable to be either the knife or the screwdriver. It has ceased to be of use to the maker.
Same thing can happen to us. I may be convinced for whatever reason that I am supposed to be the sound technician. Maybe I’m good at it and can actually do a decent job at it. But God clearly wants me to be the preacher right now. How useful would I be at either if I tried to do both? Or how much would I be impacting the kingdom if I insisted on being the sound tech instead of preaching? Do you think God would bless my efforts there?
No, the tool does not get to choose what the maker uses it for.
Another thing that some of us can do is try to be all of these things at once. We pull out all the gadgets and say “use me Lord”! But how useful is a swiss army knife that insists on having all of it’s gadgets out? Really not very useful at all.
Likewise, I think that the same is true of those of us who insist on doing everything. It’s just a matter of fact that we humans can really only do one or two things well at the same time. If we try to spread ourselves too thin, we won’t do any of it well. This is another form of the knife trying to call the shots.
I’m not saying all of this to pick on any individuals, though I have known plenty of people who are guilty of this. Myself being one of them at different times.
But one thing that I believe is so important for us to remember as we serve our Lord, is that a tool is only as useful to the maker as it becomes what the maker needs when the maker needs it and doesn’t complain or argue about it.
Like Paul said: “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
We are tools. We are formed things. We are mud sculptures. What makes us think we have a say in our shape or our purpose?
This is also why Paul says this
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Truthfully, none of us should think of ourselves any higher than a mud sculpture. Because that is essentially what we are.
Which means we are truly worthless in and of ourselves.
For dust you are, and to dust you will return.
That should give us sober judgement of ourselves.
But at the same time, that is not the end of the story. Despite the fact that we are truly worthless in and of ourselves. Just as a swiss army knife is completely worthless except as it is useful to a person, it also has great worth in the hands of a master craftsman. Not in itself, but for what the craftsman can do with it.
And our God is more than a master craftsman! And despite our true worthlessness – God chooses to use us for his great purposes. But he doesn’t choose any of us because of our own merit. In fact, Paul suggests that God even intentionally chooses the MOST WORTHLESS of the worthless to use for his greatness.
1 Corinthians 1
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
And that is why. Because God will not share his glory with anyone. Not one of us has a single thing to boast about before the Lord.
In three places, Scripture says that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
We are dirt. You could even say we are bunch of turds.
Can you imagine a turd being proud? Walking around like it’s HOT $#!&! never mind. What does dirt have to be proud about in the face of the maker? Not a thing. But apparently a humble turd is a beautiful thing in God’s eyes.
Because our magnificent God, for whatever reason has chosen not only to use us turds for his purpose. But God himself became a turd with us. Died for us. And now indwells those of us that make Him our Lord! And not only that, but calls us his CHILDREN!!
It’s truly mind-boggling that God would do this. That he would call us his children. MADE THINGS!! His heirs!
Imagine in the future when we have mastered artificial intelligence and we are finally able to create beings in our image…would we really call the made things our children, and give them the same privileges and rights as our biological children?
Actually, what do all the science fiction movies and stories predict will happen when the robots finally become self aware? They will rebel against their makers – us. Why do you think that is? Why is it that the common assumption is that if we make these robots like us that they will rebel against us, their makers? Hmmm… Maybe, because we assume that history will repeat itself.
Will we then do for the robots what God has done for us? Probably not!
1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
It really makes no sense. We often try to explain why it is that God loves us as He does. But there really is no explanation for it. He just does. He loves us with an everlasting love. And we don’t deserve it. But it ours nevertheless.
So, the point of this little talk was to perhaps help put our thoughts in proper perspective.
It is impossible to have the “sober judgment” of yourself that Paul speaks of unless you realize just how worthless you truly are in and of yourself,
and yet at the same time you have infinite worth ascribed to you by the infinite God.
God does not need you. God does not need me. But he does want you, and me to participate in his glorious plan. Not because we are worth wanting, but simply because he loves us.
So, what on earth do we have to boast about? Or complain about? Or feel slighted about?
And the only sane response to God’s ridiculous love for us is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to the God who made us, and died for us, and lives within us.
To quit trying to tell God what kind of pot you are, or what kind of tool you are. But to let go, and just say “God, all I am is yours. Use me as you wish.”
Because that is what is holy, and pleasing to God – and is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)