You may have memorized Ephesians 2:10 or know it in one form or another. Church leaders and those in ministry know it all too well. The New King James says “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This scripture in plain language tells us that there is a job or set of good works that has been planned for us before we were even born. Scroll to the end of this verse and it tells us why we should do them. It is so “that we should walk in them.”
As you begin to process this passage, your first instinct might be to find out what those good works are, get started on them, and complete them. Before you lean toward what seems natural and start getting to work, let me tell you why I don’t think this is a complete picture of what God wants for us. The word walk used in Ephesians 2:10 comes from the Greek word peripateó, which implies walking in close companionship with someone (vis-à-vis Jesus). Yet, it’s easy to begin walking on our own when we feel we’ve figured out at least some kind of path to walk.
This seemingly righteous drive has been the source of many minsters getting burnt out and has even led to the demise of many great ministries and churches. It has caused me in the past to take a break from ministry for years at a time. Yet, we seem to teach it as a godly virtue, and we even have a Christian label for it—the “protestant work-ethic.” This notion of needing to complete projects and tasks in order to be productive members of society and even the church, is nurtured within us from a very early age.
Going back to the passage, you’ll notice that it simply tells us the work exists and that we are God’s workmanship. It never states that the main goal is for us to complete the work, though we’ve conditioned ourselves to the contrary. In fact, nowhere in the verse does it tells us to complete any work at all. Instead, Paul, the author of Ephesians emphasizes in Philippians 1:6 the idea that God completes the work. He tells us “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)
To add some perspective, I’ll share a Disney picture I have of God in this work. It’s like God is Walt Disney, and he has created Disneyland for his children to enjoy. The children have a map and an all-access ticket along with a guide into the park. Walt is waiting on the other side of the entrance to give them the grand tour. Except, the children are busy riding around in the parking lot tram and won’t get off to enter the park, even though the map shows them how and where to get off, while the guide is pointing them toward the entrance.
This illustration might not resonate with those of you that don’t know what it’s like going to Disneyland as a child. It really pales in comparison to the magic and mystery of Heaven. But like a child being taken to Disneyland for the first time, I realize why God has prepared works for me to do. It’s really for me to enjoy spending time together with Him as we walk in those works like the scripture says. Whatever task gets done or cool ride we go on is just a bonus, but over time I will learn to love Him more out of it.
You might be like that child on the tram, except you sense that you’re not really doing what God has designed you for. Don’t get stuck on the parking lot tram of life. God is inviting you into His heavenly theme park, and He wants to give you the grand tour. The first step might be to get deeper into the bible, which is the road map for life. Ask the Holy Spirit, your guide to life, for direction. Finally, get off that tram and take claim to the all-access ticket you’ve got.