Lost Masterpieces

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

We are masterpieces planned before we were born for God’s work. Do we feel like great works of art, or do we believe ourselves inadequate and lost?

When I first visited the St. Petersburg region of Russia in the early 1990s, I traveled to Pushkin for a tour of Catharine’s Palace. Pushkin, close to St. Petersburg, is also known as the “Village of the Czars.” 

Walking through the palace, I entered a room that had nothing in it. There was no furniture, paintings, or elaborate wall hangings.

I thought it odd to have an empty room in a palace. With paying visitors, to make it interesting, shouldn’t the administration at least drag a few treasures from storage and place them around the room?

Then I noticed a cardboard display on an easel in the middle of the room. It included photos and written explanations of these photos in both Russian and English.

As I read, I realized that this bare room was the fabled Amber Room.  

The amber and other treasures from this room, once dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” had been stolen by the Germans when they surrounded St. Petersburg during World War II.

That’s why I was standing in an empty room. Anything placed in the room would seem inadequate or even desecrating.

The amber and other artifacts from the Amber Room were lost by the Germans at the end of the war and have never been seen again.

In 1997, a few years after my vacant room experience with the Amber Room at Catharine’s Palace, I entered another room. This one was at the Hermitage State Museum in downtown St. Petersburg, Russia.

I knew in advance this room wasn’t empty, as my interpreter told me before we entered the room, “This room contains what we call the ‘Lost Art of World War II.’”

After the Russians pushed the Germans out of Russia and back to Germany, they returned the favor of the Germans stealing the Amber Room (and many thousands of other artworks) by taking thousands of paintings and other pieces of art from Germany.

For decades after World War II, the Russian government admitted nothing as to their involvement with this lost art. That is, they admitted nothing until the directors of the Hermitage sheepishly told the world in the mid-1990s that 74 of these lost paintings had been boxed in crates in the basement of the Hermitage.

Among the paintings in the basement were Degas’s Palace de la Concorde, one of Van Gogh’s last paintings, White House at Night, and Renoir’s sublime In the Garden. 

Original Degas paintings have sold for over 50 million dollars, and only Bill Gates could afford a Renoir as the last one went for $188 million at auction. No one can quite imagine how Van Gogh’s White House at Night, with its “lost art” provenance, would be evaluated.

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s masterpieces.  

We are more valuable to His purposes than a painting by Van Gogh, and by walking with Jesus, we must find His will and, by the power of the Spirit, fulfill it.  

We should not be “lost art” for His kingdom!

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