Like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. - Jeremiah 18:6 (NASB)
We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. - Ephesians 2:10
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 56:1-8; Job 36:1-26; 1 Corinthians 9:1-12a
Maybe the most common confusion in Christian theology is about "works." Most of life trains us that the good things we get, we get because we've worked for them. Do the job, then get your paycheck. Work the fields, then reap the harvest. It's easy to think that it's the same with God, too: Live a good life, then get admitted to heaven.
Then there's this image, scattered throughout the Bible, of God as a potter, who creates us according to a certain design and for a certain purpose. If we're planned and made in a fashion like this, then the "good works" we're able to do have already been thought of and anticipated as part of our DNA. The possibilities don't start with us, but with God. This connects with the important concept of God's "grace." As Paul writes in the verses leading up to Ephesians 2:10 about good works:
By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast.Our place in God's reign is assured by grace, the pure unconditional love and acceptance of God, not by anything we do. First come the blessings, then come the good works we do. They are simply "our way of life," the paths in which we "walk worthily" of the love of God.
Our whole lives are lived within the atmosphere of God's grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness. Breathing in that fresh, clean air, we can be grateful and at peace and productive for the reign of God. We don't need to compete or gasp for air, nor fret that the oxygen we need will disappear or be taken away without constant effort on our part.
Thank you, God, for creating us and infusing our world with grace. Thank you for your promise of loving kindness for all. Thank you for giving us form and purpose, and for calling us to be useful in your holy work. Thank you for helping us to believe and trust, and to work joyfully and diligently, each in our own way.