A POET WHO KNOWS IT Based on Eph. 2:10
By Glenn Pease
Quite often a person will be speaking and unconsciously make their sentence rhyme, and the remark will be made, “You are a poet and don’t know it.” This is never the case with the poetry of God. He is a poet who knows it. None of His works are a matter of accident. As Browning wrote, “God Himself is the best Poet and the Real is His Song.” God has deliberately built the rhyme and beauty of poetry into all He has made.
It is no accident that a large portion of the Bible is poetry. Not only are the books from Job to the Song of Solomon poetry, but there is much poetry scattered through the historic and prophetic books as well. God has deliberately used poetry to communicate a large portion of His revelation to man. P. J. Bailey wrote,
Poetry is itself a thing of God;
He made His prophets poets, and the more
We feel of poesie do we become
Like God in love and power.
Poetry is the language of love and power. There is great power in poetry. Possibly not so much, however, as the young bride thought when her husband stood beside her on the beach in the moonlight and said, “Roll on, thou dark and deep blue ocean, roll.” “Oh Richard,” she sighed, “You’re wonderful-look, its doing it.” Man’s poetry does not cause the beauty and power of creation, but rather is caused by it. God’s poetry is the cause. He speaks the word and the blank black becomes starred-spangled blazing with beauty and blinking out the message of His power and glory. He speaks the word and the baked and barren desert blooms with the brilliant beauty of multicolored flowers. Poetry is power when the Poet of poets Himself becomes eloquent.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
God is a poet who knows it, and He has revealed His poetic nature in both His Word and His works of creation. But there is also a third channel by which God reveals His poetic nature. In Eph. 2:10 Paul writes, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Greek word for workmanship is poiema from which we get our word poem. G. Campbell Morgan says that this can be accurately translated, “We are God’s poems.” The Christian is a living work of art created in Christ Jesus for good works.
God has a multitude of witnesses in the heavens declaring His glory, and the earth is also full of His poems in the realm of plants and animals, but Christians are God’s poems in the kingdom of man. When the church gathers for worship it is a library of the Lord’s literature. Singing plays a major role in our worship, for it is as poems that we gather to express our gratitude to our Author. Paul says that the Ephesians were once dead, and discord characterized their lives. They were so out of harmony with God that they were children of wrath. But God in His great love, rich in mercy, raised them from the dead and made them new creatures in Christ. Now, says Paul, you are examples of God’s handiwork. You are products of the Eternal Poet, and you are God’s poems.
God being a poet who knows it makes no poem by accident. All He does is for a purpose and, therefore, every Christian is a poem with a purpose. We want to consider two characteristics of a good poem that should be characteristics of those who are poems of God. First-
I. A POEM SHOULD BE BEAUTIFUL.
Another translation of this verse is, “We are God’s poems, created in Christ Jesus unto beautiful living.” Every poem in Christ must be characterized by beauty. “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,” ought to be more than a chorus. It should be the serious prayer of every believer. Jesus was beautiful in every aspect of His life and being. Even as the Lamb of God He was without spot or blemish. Isaiah calls Him the “Branch beautiful and glorious.” He is the one who is altogether lovely, and the fairest of the fair. He is the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the valley and the bright and morning star. The best of all God’s beauties in creation are taken as names to describe Him who was and is and ever will be the greatest and most beautiful of God’s poems. Those who trust Him as Savior and seek to be conformed to His likeness will one day see the King in His beauty.
Millions of years your wondering eyes
Shall o’er His beauties rove;
And endless ages you’ll adore
The glories of His love.
Paul makes it clear, however, that we are not saved just to wait for this, for we are made to work toward this goal. When we see Him we shall be like Him, and this is to be the goal we aim for as we live. We are already poems of God by His power, but it is our duty to reveal the beauty of what God has done in us by beautiful living. We must be poems of love and harmony in a world filled with hate and discord. We must be poems of beauty in a world where the head of ugliness is being lifted up in every area of life. Never has the world been in more desperate need of examples of God’s poems in human life.
If men cannot see beauty and harmony in the lives of those who are God’s poems, they have good reason to doubt if there is an Eternal Poet. If men believe that the universe is the work of a poet who does not know it, and that all the beauty of creation is a colossal accident, it may be due to the failure of Christians to exhibit the love and beauty of their Creator. God has not failed. Eccles. 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” In these last times He gave His Son and established the Church to be a witness of the beautiful plan of salvation that His Son accomplished. If men do not see the beauty of the Gospel it is because we as God’s poems do not display the glory of God and our Savior in our lives.
We fail God when we fail to live a life of beauty which compels men to believe there is a Supreme Artist and Poet who is the author of such beauty. No one can read the works of men like Shakespeare and Browning and doubt that they were written by poets who knew it. None could be so gullible as to believe they were mere accidents of chance, or of unconscious slips of the pen. These works bear clear witness to the nature of their authors. People should likewise be able to look at the Christians life and sense that the beauty of it is not a mere matter of chance. They should be stimulated to inquire as the author of such beauty. The beauty we are talking about is not mere physical beauty. Even a wise pagan author recognizes this is not the most precious kind of beauty. Socrates said, “I pray thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within.” Christian beauty must be more than skin deep. It must be a beauty of spirit and character. The second characteristic of a good poem is-
II. A POEM SHOULD BE BENEFICIAL.
Beauty is beneficial in itself. Victor Hugo said, “The beautiful is as useful as the useful.” Beauty was to him synonymous with being useful. Beauty can be an end in itself, and you can desire to possess a thing for no other reason than the fact that it is beautiful. God, however, in creating men anew in Christ is not interested in art for arts sake. He combines utility with beauty. When He makes pottery He expects it to hold water as well as please the eye of the beholder. When He makes a person a poem in Christ, He expects very practical benefits as well as beauty. Plato said, “The beautiful consists in utility and the power to produce some good.” The Christian life will be beneficial as well as beautiful. If you lose one or the other, you loose both. That is why Paul in this verse stresses both. He not only tells us that we are poems, but he tells the purpose for which we were made poems.
We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We are not only to be beautiful, but we are to do beautiful things that are beneficial. A poem is to reveal its author and bring glory to Him. In Matt. 5:16 Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This is the beneficial work of a good poem. A poem is an extension of the author’s life and character. A Christian is to be an extension of the life and character of Jesus. Rousseu said, “I’ve always believed that good is only beauty put into practice.” That is what the Christian life is to be. It is to be the beauty of Christ put into practice in day by day living.
The greatest benefit we can give to people is to carry to them, in their spiritual poverty, something of the unsearchable riches of Christ. That is the value of poetry. It can express something of the reality of the inexpressible. E. A. Robinson said, “Poetry is a language that tells us, through a more or less emotional reaction, something that cannot be said.” The Christian is to be God’s means of saying to men what cannot be said in any other way. Our life must speak to people even when they will not listen to our words. Beauty does not need defense. It needs only to be seen to be beneficial. People can doubt our words and deny our testimony, but they cannot escape the beauty of love expressed through good works. We do not do good works to be saved, but that through them others might see the love of God for them and trust in Christ for their own salvation.
The wise men could have refused to believe the Star of Bethlehem had any significance, but they could not deny its beauty. Its beauty captured its attention and then led them to Christ. It was first beautiful, and then beneficial. We as God’s poems are to attract people by beautiful living, and then lead them to the author of that beauty who can make their lives a beautiful poem as well. Longfellow was a poet who had a vision of the purpose of the poet and he wrote,
God sent His singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth,
That they might touch the hearts of men,
And bring them back to heaven again.
The most beneficial characteristic of God’s poems is their ability to give birth to other poems by attracting others to Christ. When Robert Moffat, the great missionary, visited England he was asked to write something in an album, and this is what he wrote:
My album is the savage breast,
Where tempests brood and darkness rests,
Without one ray of light.
To write the name of Jesus there,
And point to worlds all bright and fair,
And see the savage bow in prayer,
Is my supreme delight.
Here was a man who knew that God is a poet who knows it, and who knew he was a poem created in Christ Jesus for good works. His was a beautiful and beneficial life, for he brought life and light into a world of death and darkness.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
But greater yet, and don’t forget,
God can make a poem of me.
And this too is also true,
God can make a poem of you.
God knows what He is doing, for He is a poet who knows it. The question is, are you a poem who knows it?
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