“You’re Designed to be More than a Dime”
One of my favorite scenes from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown has Lucy coming in and finding his her brother Linus watching TV. The following dialogue takes place,
Lucy: Okay. Switch channels
Linus: Are you kidding? What makes you think you can come right in here and take over.
Lucy: These five figures, individually they are nothing. But when I curl them together into a single unit they become a fighting force terrible to behold.
Over the next two weeks, we will be talking about what happens when the church pulls together and the ministry that can take place when we serve together. This sermon series is called “Divine Design” because God has created us to be in service together. We will be exploring two passages in the book of Ephesians together.
“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” begins with Linus telling Charlie Brown that he does not have anything to worry about because science has shown that your character is not established until you are at least five years old. To which Charlie Brown says he is more than five. Patty adds her comments to the discussion,
The only think wrong with Charlie Brown is his lack of confidence; his inferiority and his lack of confidence. His clumsiness, his inferiority and his lack of confidence. His stupidity, his clumsiness, his inferiority and his lack of confidence.
Patty knows how to boost a person’s self-esteem. If Charlie Brown was not suffering from those things before, he surely was when it was after hearing what she said about him. Lucy does not help matters; she adds that he has a failure face.
Throughout the play this theme of low self-esteem continues to come up. There baseball team can’t win any games and even Lucy gets down on herself for being crabby. So often it is easy for us to be down on ourselves, but the first step in being in ministry together is to understand that we are created for a purpose.
In Ephesians Paul reminds his readers of their self worth. He is probably writing to a large Gentile audience and he spends the first portion of the letter in chapter one telling them who they now are because of their belief is Jesus. He says they are:
every spiritual blessing in Christ
chosen in Christ
predestined us as adopted sons in Christ
Redemption in Christ
All things are summed up in Christ
Obtained an inheritance in Christ
Sealed in him.
Listened to the message of truth in Christ
In chapter two Paul continues to remind his readers in Ephesus of their value as compared to the former life. He writes,
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
One of the fastest ways to jump into this text is to notice Paul’s comparison between their old life and their new life.
1. Dead in transgressions (vs1). Verses Alive in Christ (vs5)
2. Deserving wrath (vs4) Verses Being Saved (vs6)
3. Being disobedient (vs4) Verses Good works (vs10)
Paul is pointing out a reality that he believed was in every person prior to their experience of salvation. In the very nature of our being when we are a part from God, we “gratify the cravings of our sinful nature.” Paul continues though and reminds his readers that this is no longer true for them. They now, because of the great love of God, been made alive in Christ and they have been saved from their former life so that they can now experience God’s kindness.
The next three verses may be some of Paul’s most famous words,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Paul seems to be going back and completing the thought he began in verse 4, that salvation is by grace, through faith. He then adds that this is a gift from God, it is not by our works that we earn salvation. Paul uses two terms in these verses grace and mercy. It has always helped me to think of the two terns like this: Mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you do not deserve. Paul has already said that God was rich in mercy and now says for the second time his listeners are saved by God’s grace. God has acted towards them in ways they did not deserve. Paul says this is a gift from God that he has offered them. Salvation is something that we simply receive, we do not earn it.
Paul them moves on and says that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared for us to do in advance. This last phrase tells us of both our uniqueness and our similarity. As Dwight Kilbourne pointed out in his sermon on this text,
Our genetic codes are so unique that we can be identified by it. In each of the 100 trillion cells in your body, your unique DNA is present that contains around 3.5 billion letters. Even though there is only around a .2% variance in human DNA(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1165172.stm), that small difference is enough to make each us different. Even if there were two people with identical DNA, their life experience would make them unique. Identical twins may have very similar features, yet they are unique.
God has made us unique and we are all God’s handiwork. Think about the implications of what Paul is saying. You are not messed up; you are a unique child of God. All of your differences were given to you by God.
While we are unique, we are also all created to do good works. Paul is not specific about which good works we should do, we simply says we were uniquely created to do good works. This is a trait that every one of us has. This is so important for us to understand because Paul is reminding us of what it means to be human. Being human means that we are created to do good and created to serve. I am convinced that when we serve others with the unique gifts that God has given us, we become the people God has created us to be.
I am not sure how many people watch the show “Design on a Dime.” I actually have seen a couple of episodes (I am not ashamed to admit it.) The concept of the show is about helping people redesign a boring space in their house with a very small budget. They get $1000 and a design team will go in and renovate the space. The name of the show is “Design on a Dime” to denote that they design a room with very little money. (I need a Design on the Penny” show) Somehow “Dime” has been used to denote “a small amount of money.”
One of the biggest problems I see in the church is that we somehow think that we are like a “dime” and cannot do very much. We think we are created to do very little. Maybe there is some kind of flaw in our DNA. Paul is telling us this morning that we are created for a purpose. We are created to do good works. Remember that he who created us will be faithful to see our works through until they are completed.