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During the first century there lived a very skilled artisan, living in Palatine Hill country. His name was Demetrius Aulgia Octavos. The people of the time claimed his hands were formed at the beginning of time and were passed down from the original creation. He was a passionate man, though humble. He felt blessed by God to be able to create anything at all and never claimed to be anything on his own, apart from God.
Nonetheless he was extremely talented, so much so that his skills came to the attention of Emperor Titus. Who commissioned Demetrious to craft a series of statues to adorn the courtyard in his newly-built Flavian Palace. Demetrious was honored and agreed immediately with no inquiry about wages.
Demetrious began at once, picking the finest marble and assembling his tools. He chose to sculpt three figures. The first he titled, Hope, whose eyes gazed to the heavens and whose whole body seemed to follow as if she would fly into the sky with the anticipation the artist conveyed. The second was titled, Grace, whose hands were extended outward as if to receive the whole world to its bosom. The warmth it seemed to express made many forget that in reality, it was a statue made from cold marble. The third was titled faith, whose legs and feet where so vivid that they seemed to be moving and living. Many swore that they saw it move and the marble statue was mistaken for human at many a dinner party.
All three statues were completed in record time. The emperor was well pleased. He, however, was deeply troubled with the power of the sculptor. The statues stood so boldly and life-like. This, along with Demetrious` reputation for being from the divine, caused fear in Titus.
He not only did not pay Demetrious the standard rate, but had him flogged and banished to the conquered islands of Britain. There Demetrious and his wife and son lived out the rest of their days in squalor. Demetrious spoke often of his three greatest creations, so much so that his son never forgot the way his father described them, He in turn told his children about the three awe inspiring statues.
Years went by. Titus became bitter and resentful toward these three master pieces and let them go to ruin. His children, knowing his wrathful temper, also did not care for the statues.
Eventually, the palace itself was destroyed and the town was mostly abandoned. 100 years passed and the structures around the statues fell away. Amazingly, the statues remained standing.
Hope’s head fell to the earth, Grace’s hands crumbled and Faith`s feet were covered with moss and dirt. Then one day Demetrious` great-great-great-grandson Petrious made the long journey to the once great Roman state. He had heard the stories of these majestic statues since he was old enough to sit at his grand-father’s feet. He had decided in his heart he must see the three figures himself.
As Petrious approached the statues, seeing the decayed state they had fallen into his, heart leapt. He saw what Demetrious had seen years ago: the vision of hope, grace and faith. He, like his great-great-great-grandfather, was also an artist.
Petrious opened up his bag of tools and over the course of many months, slowly, pains- takenly restored the three statues. Most days he would work from sunrise to sunset. Some days he would not sleep at all. He had a vision that needed to be completed. He needed to resurrect these three. When he had completed the work, Hope’s eyes were so vivid that many could not gaze into them, Grace’s hands were so loving that children would run to her, and Faith’s feet and legs were so strong and vivid that athletes would go to him for inspiration before a big race.
In the beginning, God created. He created the basic elements. God took those basic, wild, untamed elements, the chaotic forces of nature, and formed all things into order.
Genesis tells how God separated night from day, earth from water. He made the moon to shine at night and the sun to shine by day. All nature was sorted and placed in its proper place.
God the Father had a vision. A great, fantastic, awe-inspiring vision, a vision for all creation, a vision for all history, a vision for all created beings. He had and still has a vision for us.
Just as Demetrius had a vision, a purpose and plan for each of his statues, God has a vision, purpose and plan for us as individuals.
Psalm 139:13 and 14 says, “…you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Jeremiah 1:5 says referring to the prophetic calling on Jeremiah’s life, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
How many of us truly realize the significance of this?
Ephesians 1:4 says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
This means we were predestined before the very foundations of the world! Before God created the very elements of creation, before He wrought the wild chaotic forces that would form the very essence of the earth, before the Holy Spirit hovered over the surface of the waters which God used to put life into every creature on the Earth, before all of that, He not only thought of us, but it says He chose us and loved us. We were not an afterthought, but a contributing factor to creation. Just as God planned out the placement of the stars, just as He had a vision for the placement of the oceans, He had a vision of you. Your eyes, your hair, your laugh, your personality. That vision was with Him as He began creation.With that vision of love for us, He created the world. It was only after the vision of you that he set to the task of creating the world.
I like to imagine it as if He took the clay, the very elements that he made Adam with, and as He created him, He was thinking of you and me. He was like Demetrius in our story: he had the vision, he gathered the best materials and tools and created a masterpiece.
We are labours of love made by the father of all creation!
Rule of Sin and Death
In creation, God took chaos and made peace and order. He created us at peace with Him, in right relationship, in harmony. He made us in His image, to care for creation and put things in order as He did in the beginning.
Then entered sin and death. We were taken out of right relationship; chaos again was introduced to the world. Violence and death, destruction, pain and agony run rampant.
Just as the three statues in our story deteriorated and rotted as they were exposed to the element of nature. mankind was exposed to the law of sin and death and was corrupted and distorted.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit and brought about disease to a healthy creation.
Just as Emperor Titus was jealous of Demetrius’ creations, the devil was jealous of God’s.
Just as Titus brought decay and destruction to the statues, Satan brought about decay and destruction to creation.
Adam and Eve were to tenderly care for creation, but after the Fall they, had to fight to subdue the chaos.
Although we see a huge physical struggle portrayed in Genesis, although we see the physical results of the fall very vividly, the largest fall was of the Spirit. Men and women were disconnected not just from the peace and harmony of creation, but from the Creator Himself.
We lost our identities in the fall and we have been looking for it ever since.
It’s these pains the world has been suffering from. It’s the painful disconnect. It’s the dog eat dog, it’s the corruption of mind and heart, it is the pain we feel in our hearts that something is not right.
However, Jesus has come! He came healing the bodies of lepers, giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk. But He also came removing demons and calling the lost to repentance.
Jesus broke into human history with a connection to God.
When you have a faulty connection to your light switch, the light will not come on. But when the connection is restored, low and behold, you have light to see in the darkness. Jesus was the divine electrician. He fixed the connection to the Father and light flooded the world. He came not only to heal our physical bodies, but to restore our identity, to restore us to the vision that God had at original creation, to show us our true created purpose. His death and resurrection broke the rule of sin and death! We no longer need to be lost, or broken, or destitute. We are not orphans, we are not vagabonds, we are not homeless. We have a Father, we have a home.
The bank was once empty of all its resources. The world was bankrupted. No reserves, no petty cash. All the world had, was two tie wires and a piece of string called “the law” to get by. Then came Jesus, with His death and resurrection. The bank over-flowed! He made a deposit of grace, hope and faith. He made a deposit of freedom. The spiritual economy was booming! However, you can have all the money in the world and die alone, hungry and cold. In order to utilize your wealth, you must go into the bank and withdraw the money. We must do the same. We need to cash out on what Jesus deposited. It takes action!
Do we as a church believe in the finished work of Christ? Is it a completed work or a half-completed work? Did He only die on the cross? Did He not rise again?
The work is not half-completed, but wholly and fully completed. Just as Demetrius finished his statues and didn’t just drop three marble stones in the courtyard and call it a day, just as God finished creation and didn’t just leave the world shapeless and void, in the same manner, Jesus fulfilled His vision. He completed His task.
If we believe this, then we need to accept what He has completed. Too long the church has pressed for everyone to say a simple prayer and continue on in slavery. To long we have acted like Jesus is an insurance policy to simply get us out of hell.
Romans 6:1-5 says, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.”
We are to join in His death and resurrection! We must die to the law of sin and death and live free. Live a resurrected life!
Verses 13- 14: “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
We live under the freedom of God’s grace!
Through Christ’s death and resurrection He has made it possible for us to live under a canopy of truth, grace and restoration. Although sin is still to be found in this world and creation is still in chaos, man does not need to be IN this corruption. We can be IN Christ! We can live set apart from this fallen world. We can live as if we never ate the fruit.
Picture this: a cold night in the forest. You are freezing and IN the elements. You roll out your big thick sleeping bag and get inside. Although the outside temperature is still freezing and the wind is still blowing, you’re now warm and cozy inside you’re sleeping bag.
Although the world is still cold and dark, although death, tragedy and disease still run rampant, we are IN Christ and so we can live free from it all.
Just as the three statues were restored and stood tall apart from the palace and surrounding town which were still in ruin, we can stand restored in our broken world.
Sin has done many things to us all. Even in the situations when we were not the ones who sinned, we still felt the effect of this sinful world. The fallen world has taken its toll on us all! The corruption of creation has left us all lost, broken and confused.
God made us with a purpose. He has loved us since the beginning of time. There is a reason we were put on this earth. I don’t know all of your stories; I don’t know all your struggles. But I do know that you all, like me, have them.
We are like all the statues in the story, created wonderful and magnificent, all different and beautiful in our own design. However, we are all hurt and damaged in some way. Some have been abused, and our eyes look downward in shame instead of up to heaven with hope. Some of us have experienced tragedy and our hands are no longer outstretched to those around us. We keep others at a distance for fear of being hurt.
Many of us have gone the wrong direction, choosing the way of man instead of the narrow path of Christ. And our legs ache and our feet are sore from running in circles for so long. We have searched and searched and now we are afraid to move forward.
The good news is, we do not need to stay the way we are. We do not need to stay broken!
Maybe you have had healing in your life, but still do not feel like you’re living to your full potential. Maybe you feel like you can’t go that extra mile and get past some of the things that you view as small hurdles. You can’t, but the Holy Spirit can.
Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
We serve a God who is not satisfied with the mediocre. He didn’t have a vision from the beginning of time of you being half of whom He made you to be. You are to be whole! The completed masterpiece he created!
Just as in our story, as the sculptors great-great-great-grandson came to restore the statues, God sent His son Jesus to restore you.
We must open the closed doors to our hearts. We must take out those broken parts, those secret areas that we have held for so long, thinking that there is no use in asking for God’s healing in those areas. There is! Because you are His and you are created with a purpose.
We enter into Christ’s resurrection by the power of the Holy Spirit, for it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ accomplished His earthly ministry and it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus rose from the grave.
This same Holy Spirit lives in us as believers. When we are open to the Holy Spirit, when we allow Him full reign in our lives, He then is able to always move, to create growth, to be continually resurrecting and restoring the original created image in us.
He then has free rein to move with ongoing power with the continuation of Christ’s resurrection in each and every one of us. For full restoration we need only be open to His movement in and through us. The Holy Spirit is asking us to open our hearts to Him!
I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring the healing and restoration that is needed in your life today.
May Jesus Christ transform you by His Power. May you feel the Spirit’s presence. May all the chains of this world be broken, may you live free, to accomplish what He has set before you.
In Jesus name