In a moment of self-reflection and prayer, David Seely, professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, once asked, “What is my masterpiece—the culmination of all of my years of training and hard work?”
An answer came clearly to his mind: “But you are not a master so why do you think you can produce a masterpiece? You are just an apprentice in my workshop.” He learned that “my task was to fulfill the measure of my creation to be in the image and likeness of God, to be holy and perfect like him.” He was told that his greatest work was to be his wife and his children.
Seely suggested at Tuesday’s devotional in the Marriott Center that the same is true with all of us.
“At this very moment in our lives we are in the process of creation—of choosing between the natural man and . . . becoming, through the power of the grace of our Savior, individuals in the image and likeness of God. As apprentices in his workshop, the Lord has called us to work with him in producing his masterpieces—his children in his own image.”
Retelling a modern-day parable by Hugh Nibley, Seely said we arrive on the stage of life not knowing the beginning or ending of the play but are told to do something intelligent. “His point was in order to ‘do something intelligent’ on stage we need to know the beginning and the ending of the play.”
To explain the beginning, Seely reviewed the creation of mankind, saying “the crown of Heavenly Father’s creative work was the creation of the man and the woman.” God made Adam and Eve his representatives commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth;” and to care for it and its creatures, thus making them participants in the creative process.
Moses was taught that he was God’s son and was reminded of his divine potential, which included his participation in the ultimate purpose of creation: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). That is the end of the play.
Quoting his friend Professor George Tate, Seely asked: “Wasn’t creation completed a very long time ago? Yes, in a sense it was . . . But in another sense creation is ongoing, since its aim has not been fulfilled (to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man). Thus creation is not complete until we have fulfilled the measure of our creation.”
The first step in doing that, he said, is to get to know the Master.
“We know that we can come to know the Lord by studying the scriptures, prayer, and associating with others who know him,” said Seely. He told students that as they study and follow the life and teachings of the Savior—especially in loving others—they will come to know Him.
The second step is doing good works.
“The Savior simply said: ‘Come follow me’ (Matt. 4:19). Imitating the life of Jesus we learn obedience, compassion, love, and treating our fellows as if they were the Master: ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Matt. 25:40).”
He spoke of the many opportunities that members of the church have to work and do good, but he spoke specifically of the opportunity to be part of the process of creating relationships and families. “This sacred gift of procreation is one of the greatest gifts imaginable and gives us the power to work as co-creators with God,” Seely said.
“The third step of our apprenticeship is the most important and perhaps the most difficult,” he said. “Ultimately we are commanded to ‘be holy’ and to ‘be perfect’ like the Master. And as we live the Gospel and fill our lives with knowing and doing something miraculous happens to us—we begin to become like the Savior and like our Father in Heaven. But we cannot complete the process of becoming like God on our own. Only the Master can make a masterpiece and only He can make us in his own image.”
He reminded students that “the eternal and enduring masterpieces that we produce in our lives are not works of art or music, scholarly books or articles—they are the people around us. As we help the Master with his masterpieces, we are engaged in his work and his glory, the immortality and eternal life of man.”
To read the talk in its entirety, visit speeches.byu.edu. The devotional will also be rebroadcast on BYUtv. Check byutv.org for schedules, as well as on demand availability.