James Meehan - God's Masterpiece
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Well, welcome to Switch IRL and Switch Online for those of you that are joining with us. Before we get into the message for today, I wanna take a moment and ask you to pray with me for all of the craziness that's happening in our world right now. If you are on the internet or you've seen anything on the news, you know that there are very real and difficult situations happening right now in Ukraine where very real people are being affected in significant ways. And while we may not be in the middle of that, what we know and what we trust is that God is because our God is good. He is our ever present help in times of need. And even when the world is in chaos, we can trust that he is constant. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. And what we know about Jesus is that he has compassion for those whose spirits are crushed, that he reaches out to those who are in need and he asks us to pray. So what I invite you to do whether you're watching online or you're at one of our Switch locations is to join me in prayer for those who are being affected all throughout the world.
Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you are good. We thank you that even when times are bad, we know that you are working. We pray for all of those that are affected in Ukraine, we pray for the people in Russia who don't want this to be taking place, but this is happening all around them. God, we ask that your grace and your mercy would be present every step of the way, that God, you would lift up those people who feel crushed right now. That you would bring safety, you would bring rescue, that you would bring healing to those who are hurting. We ask that God, you would do something miraculous because you are the God of miracles, that you would come to the defense of those who are helpless, that God you would show up in ways that we can't even explain through natural means but we can only point to as evidence of your working. And God, I pray for our students that are here in the US and around the world that may not be there where this is taking place but they are overwhelmed by the sense of fear and anxiety. God, I pray that you would comfort them, that they would draw near to you knowing that you are near to them and that through all of this, we would be able to see the truth of the words that are spoken in Romans chapter eight that you work things together for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. We pray all of these things in Jesus name, amen.
Well, we are starting a brand new message series titled Who Am I where over the next six weeks, we are going to go on a journey together to discover the truth of who God says we are. Because in our day and age, there are so many of us that are looking for the answers to the questions of what makes us us. And for some of us, we have settled for answers to those questions that are so much less than the truth of what God says. For some of us, we have chosen to define ourselves based off of what we do or don't do, the people we like or we don't like, the clothes we wear, the things that have been said about us, the hobbies that we engage in or even the things that we do differently because we don't want to be like our parents. You are in a stage of life right now where you are trying to discover who you are and what makes you you.
And the reason these questions can be so challenging and confusing is because we live in a world where more than ever before, you are bombarded with influences trying to tell you who you are and who you should be. And so together, what we wanna do is root our identity in what God says about us. Because for those of us who are followers of Jesus, what we have to acknowledge is this reality that you are not who others say you are. You're not even who you think you are, you are who God says you are. And so over the course of the next six weeks, we are going to learn together who it is that God says we are. In this very first week, we are going to look at the very beginning of the Bible found in Genesis chapter one. And the big idea for today that everything is going to point back to is this, is that you are made in the image of God.
Now in Genesis chapter one, starting in verse one, here's what we read. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty and darkness covered the deep waters and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. If you missed it, last series, we spent six weeks exploring the question who is God. And this is really important because if we want to know who we are, it actually starts with knowing who God is because God is the creator and he wants a relationship with his creation. And as the creator, God is the only person who gets to define who we are. It's one of those things where I don't get to name you. Like you already have a name that was given to you by your creators, your parents.
Now later on in life, if you so choose, you can legally have your name changed but I can't just decide who you are or who you aren't because I don't have the ability to do that. And this is why we have to start with an understanding of who God is because he is our creator. And what he says about us is the most true thing about us. And that's what Genesis One invites us to discover. The truth first and foremost of who God is and then the truth of who we are. Picking back up in verse four, God says, let there be light and there was light and God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light from the darkness. He called it day and the darkness night and then evening past and morning came, marking the first day.
You see, these words were originally communicated to a group of people that had just been freed from slavery in Egypt. The people of God, the Jewish people were slaves for hundreds of years, being forced by Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, to make bricks, to put together building projects, to build pyramids and things like that. And then all of a sudden, God delivered them from slavery in a miraculous way. He redeemed them. He rescued them from slavery and he invited them to become his people and for him to be their God. And so what Genesis is trying to help us do is understand who God is and how different he is from the other ways the world views God because God is our creator and he wants a relationship with his creation. That means you and me. God created the universe so that he could know us and we could know him.
And then later on in this chapter of Genesis, we learn a little bit more about who God says we are. Picking up in verse 26, God says, let us make human beings in our image to be like us. They will rain over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth and the small animals that scurry along the ground. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them. Male and female, he created them. So who are you? You are made in the image of God. You were created by God to live in relationship with him. And there's something that sets you apart from everything else in all of creation. And that is the fact that you are made in God's image. So what does that mean? Well, the rest of this chapter is going to give us some insights about what it means for us to be made in the image of God.
So back in verse 27, we just read it, but I wanna read it again. What we read is that God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them. Male and female, he created them. So here's what it means to be made in the image of God. First being made in the image of God means that you are valuable. You are special, you are precious, you are unlike anything else in all of creation because earlier in this chapter, we didn't read it, we kind of skipped past it, but earlier in this chapter, we see as God day by day forms the heavens and the earth and then he fills them with life. He creates birds and fish and animals, and all of that was good. But then on the sixth day, God creates human beings and this time there's something different because this time, God creates human beings in his own image.
That means that you're valuable, that you were created with a purpose, that you were created to be a walking, talking, living, laughing, loving picture of your created God, that there is something in you that nobody can take from you because you are special. Not just special though, the Bible describes us as God's masterpiece. In Ephesians chapter two, verse 10, we're told that we are God's masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus to do the good things that he planned for us to do. This is the way that God sees you, as a masterpiece. Not some mess thrown together at the last minute, but a work of art. And while it is very true, that sin has left a mark on us. That sin has made a mess of our lives. Before sin ever entered the picture, we were created in the image of God.
One of the ways that I try to help people understand this concept is to think of a famous painting like the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is argued by some to be one of the greatest paintings ever put on canvas. It was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. And so in this analogy, God is the artist. We are his canvas and he calls us a masterpiece. He created us in his own image. And while it is true that sin has infected us, it has ruined parts of us that make us almost unrecognizable, that doesn't take away the fact that beneath the sin, we're a masterpiece. It's almost like if somebody were to go to the Mona Lisa and just hurl a bunch of poop at it. Like it's a weird image, but that's kind of like what sin is. It's this crud that gets on us and covers us and ruins us but it doesn't change the fact that at the core, we are made in the image of God. At the core, we are valuable.
If somebody were to throw poop on the Mona Lisa, the Mona Lisa wouldn't stop being a masterpiece. And the good news of the gospel is that Jesus comes along, invites us to be made clean. He meets the mess of our sins with his mercy. He makes us anew so that we can do the good things that he planned for us long ago. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Being made in the image of God means first that you're valuable and second, being made in the image of God means that you have a purpose. In verse, what is it, 28, what we read is that God blessed them. He said, be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and govern it, reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky and all the animals that scurry along the ground. In the beginning, this was God's purpose for human beings, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and govern it to rule it, to reign over all of the wildlife that God has put in the world. From the very beginning, God's purpose was for us as human beings to be his partners in the good things he has planned for the world.
Now, can you imagine what those words would have been like to the original audience that is hearing them? People who had spent the last hundreds of years, generation after generation living as slaves to Pharaoh. And now they are being told that the God who delivered them miraculously from their slavery has called them to be his partners, that they were created to work with him and alongside him, to create and cultivate all of the creation, to spread his goodness and glory to every corner of the earth. This is the beautiful thing that we've been invited into. And because of Jesus, what we know is that God's kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven that anybody who receives the grace that he offers can be made new, can be adopted into his family, that we can become good news and share that good news with others. You have a purpose because you are made in the image of God.
Ephesians chapter 4:1 tells us that we are to live a life worthy of the calling that we have been given because you have been called by God. Now that calling might be something really big, but it also might be something really small. And one of the biggest mistakes that we can make is be so focused on doing big things for God that we don't take time to see the little things that God is inviting us into. And so for you, maybe being faithful to your calling looks like doing the small right things day in and day out. Maybe it looks like honoring your parents when you really don't want to. Maybe it looks like loving your friend who's just annoying you. Maybe it's being patient with your siblings who are desperate to spend time with you. Maybe it's being involved serving in your church. Maybe it's going out and being a part of some nonprofit that's bringing goodness and justice to your community. The beautiful thing is that God calls us and invites us to do what we can with what we have right where we are.
And so no matter what you have or where you are, you have been called by God to play a part in his good plans to restore the world. So what does it mean to be made in the image of God? It means that you're valuable. It means you have a purpose and it means that you are loved. Picking up in verse 29, God says, look, I have given you every seed bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food and I've given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the animals that scurry along the ground, everything that has life. And that is what happened. Being made in the image of God means that you are loved. One of the most common ways that God shows his love is by giving. You see, God loves and he gives. He gives because he loves.
One of the most famous verses in all of scripture is John chapter three, verse 16, where we are told that God so loved the world he gave. The demonstration of his love was giving his son Jesus so that anybody who believes in him would have eternal life and would not perish. That is how God loves, he gives. From the beginning, before we did anything to earn it, God gave human beings everything they needed to survive and thrive. And now for those of us who maybe haven't even began a relationship with Jesus, we can know that we are still loved because before we ever believed in him, he died for us day in and day out. The God who loves us dearly is giving us opportunities to experience new life and freedom in him. This is what it means to be made in the image of God. It means that you are valuable. It means that you have a purpose and it means that you are loved.
Now what I know is that for some of you, this is really hard to believe because everything in your life says the opposite. So much of what you've experienced has not been good or loving or kind, but you've just been beaten down day in and day out until you're ready to give up. Please hear me when I say this, you are valuable. You have a purpose and you are loved. God, the creator of heaven and earth, wants a relationship with you. He wants to make you new. He wants to breathe new life into your lungs. You are not an accident. God created the universe so that he could know you and so that you could know him. And today may be the day where you first enter into a relationship with him to discover the overwhelming love that he has been offering us from the beginning of time until now cause you've been made in the image of God.
This chapter ends in verse 31 with these words. As God looks over all that he has made and he sees that it is very good. You see, up until this point, the creation account in Genesis One tells us that God creates something and then he looks at it and it's good. But then after creating human beings, we're told that when God looks at all he had made, it's very good. This is how your Heavenly Father sees you. He sees past the mess that sin has made of your life. And he invites you to experience his mercy because he loves you. You're valuable and you have a purpose.
Now the thing is it is one thing to hear these words and to read these words. It is another thing entirely to believe these words and live these words. And that's why in this series, we are going to be stepping into a spiritual discipline known as scripture memorization. It's pretty self explanatory. It's memorizing scripture, taking God's words and allowing the truth to be so internalized in us that eventually his words become our words because the most true thing about you is not what others say, it's not even what you think, but it is who God says you are. And I really, really want for you to embrace and experience the freedom that comes from knowing that your value doesn't come from what you do. It comes from the one who made you.
And so for you, if all of this seems really good, but it's hard to imagine actually putting it into practice, I wanna invite you to start by signing up for the Bible plan in the YouVersion Bible app that's simply titled Who Am I. You can find a link in the description if you're watching this on YouTube or your youth pastor will point you to it if you're attending a Switch In Real Life experience, but this is a really, really great way to familiarize yourself with who it is that God says you are so that you can begin to take a step towards believing that what he says is true. Because when you begin to wrap your mind around the truth of who God says you are, that opens up the doors for so many incredible things for you to experience. And that's what I want for you because I know personally how different life feels when I'm no longer chasing the affirmation of others, I'm no longer having to battle my negative thoughts, but I can stand firm on the truth of who God says I am. And so for you, who are you? I believe that you are made in the image of God and because you are made in the image of God, I believe that you're valuable, that you have a purpose and that you are loved.
Heavenly Father, we come before you right now and we just thank you that you word is true, that your word has the power to transform the way we see ourselves, others in the world. And so God, I pray that you would transform our hearts, that you would renew our minds, that you would help us get this truth deep enough in us to produce a change so that our lives would be a reflection of who you say we are. And that God, these students that are hearing this message and beginning to take steps to put it into action would become the kind of people who are good news to others in the same way that you have been good news for us. We pray all these things in Jesus name, amen.
Now maybe some of you, as you are hearing this message, you're still having a hard time believing it because you've never actually had a relationship with Jesus. And maybe that's why you're here today, to experience the truth. That God, the creator of heaven and earth, wants a relationship with you because he loves you. Before sin ever left its mark on you, God saw you as his masterpiece, but the problem is is that we've all sinned and that sin separates us from God. But from the beginning of time, God has been patiently and persistently pursuing us and inviting us back to him. That's why Jesus lived. That's why Jesus died for your sins and for mines, that anybody who puts their trust in him could be saved because Jesus died but he didn't stay dead. He rose from the grave, conquering sin, death and the devil so that we could be freed and we could be made right with God and maybe that's why you're here today for the first time to begin a relationship with him, to put your trust in Jesus as your savior and as your Lord.
If that is you and you want to step into that new relationship, you want to be made new, you want to receive his grace, then simply lift your hand wherever you are or type it in the chat saying "Jesus, I give you my life". That is the most important decision you could make in your entire life because in that moment, we believe that you become a new creation, no longer defined by the sin or shame of your past, but defined by God's love for you. This is what you were created for. And as people are making the decision to step into a relationship with Jesus, we're gonna pray together as a Switch family because even though they had to make that choice on their own, they don't have to pray alone. So repeat after me all together praying out loud.
Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life. In Jesus name, amen, and amen and amen.