Friday, November 30, 2012
...is to use my art to reflect life by focusing on beauty and the uplifting. Art admires Creation, adoring the sublime hand that created it in all its wonder. Art has proven to be healing for some and a hearts outlet of this wonder of creativity for those who struggle deeply. This is a joy God blesses us with, an expression given to us as a gift. Creativity is indeed a wonderful blessing from the Creator of all things. Yet ever as heartfelt adoration for He who awesomely created very living vibrant life out of nothing, we mere dust with feeble hands of mortality and weakness. The focus, with awe, is on Him - with what He has done so amazingly. Doing so with the joy of knowing He gave the very ability to have these talents Himself. Unlike in relationships with others, where we give to them that which we purchased or made ourselves, we give back to Him who first gives profoundly to us, in every part of our life in Him. Even the ability to do so itself is from His loving care
I had many thoughts behind the theme of the work itself. I began to see in the world around me, in my personal view, that while great strides have been made socially and institutionally, behind closed doors or in our neighborhoods, racism and the broader theme of how we esteem or value one another is still very much an issue. By this I speak of the broader aspect of how we view others around us in every day life. This work portrays an uplifting message “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). The title embodies this value, that of respect for others. While the theme is racial healing, it is in fact much wider in the idea of relating to another.
As I created this work, my mind and heart reflected on my own feelings of having been treated as less than others by my peers in the past. Many of us have had deeply hurtful experiences of many different kinds. While my own experience could never compare to experiences in others lives in larger contexts of racism or abuse, it did provide an emotional tie to me as I created the work. I had found in it a much larger issue of human nature in how we relate to one another. It is really quite universal in all of us. In my life it had became a strong motivation to treat others with equal respect from a value that had deep meaning to me. These are expressed as personal or relational values in “Respect for Others”; it is therefore not a work that is political or sociological in intent. It is rather an issue of the heart.
While the work seems quite simple both in artistic approach and topic, the closer we look the more we find it is quite complex. I find that very much true in the human hand, as well as our experiences and the human heart.
Solomon was the son of King David, a king who was exceedingly rich in worldly riches, wisdom, and knowledge. His name is synonymous with these things. Yet, this type of “glory” is that merely of the world, merely of a man. Of how much more glory does even a flower hold – even as it is here today, and is soon gone.
We see flowers all the time. The comparison of glory here is God’s glory, reflected in one of His created wonders in the simplest way. Yet in His creative hand such a small example being exceeding beyond all the riches and glory of a great king. The meaning is profound and beyond merely seeing such a familiar flower with the eye.
Jesus speaks of God's creative glory in a matter-of-fact way that was known and appreciated then in the same way, yet has now become lost in our wandering veneers of what we esteem “knowledge”. These are my thoughts with this work, though Jesus spoke a great deal more using lilies as an illustration for a larger message. That message is God’s loving care, and our worry. I encourage you to read these wonderful words of Jesus for yourself, in Matthew chapter 6.
Let us suppose for the sake of illustration that there was a perfect Christian – of course there never will be one, only Christ was perfect. However, let us suppose there was one. This chapter stresses in a very emphatic way that even if that were the case in the utmost of striving, unless we have love we literally have nothing. We are as a clanging symbol. Just noise. That is a compelling statement from the text.
Love in today’s society is very distorted. On the one hand, it is often portrayed as sensual desire or a mask for lust. On the other, as a noble heartfelt emotion. Yet love is not just a feeling, a romantic notion, or an easygoing attitude. True love is far from easy. For love is a sacrificial act. A reaching out in genuine care for others. An action or attitude within ourselves to continually deny destructive impulses or behavior and instead bless others. This last part in myself I find the deepest struggle. So often I see within the impulses of selfishness that literally wage war against love. Jesus spoke of loving those who hate us, who seek or even cause us harm. This is indeed sacrificial love. As we seek to humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father, love becomes a behavior to live in graciousness and humbleness in relation to others.
Jesus expressed a profound love in everything He did. It was not mere emotion or sentiments. It was a sacrificial, forgiving, merciful, unfailing, and patient love. A love of compassionate grace that is very profound in its sublimity. In the gospels we see His love was ever ready to heal and bless, ever near and very intimate, as it is in our lives today as He cares for us each day. His greatest act of love was to take our sin on Himself and die for us. It is life changing transforming love in the deepest core of our needs and hurts.
How hard it is to truly love! In our day to day experience we often may not feel the emotion or affection of love. Here again, it must be stressed the misconception we hold that love is solely an emotional state or feeling. In actuality we may many times be churned up with a whole host of negative feelings for a whole host of reasons. This is precisely where God moves us to act in love, in spite of feelings we may struggle with.
We therefore see in the words and truths expressed in this chapter of the Bible a transformed way of living. A way of living that really can only come by Christ’s work in us. In the passage just before chapter 13 we read “and yet I show you a more excellent way”. This excellent way – love - is central to the two most important things we are to do as God’s children. To love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds. And to love our neighbors as ourselves. What a blessing and relief to know that we do not have to manufacture love ourselves, but as we seek Him daily in our lives and read His Word, He works this within us.
In a conclusion of that which is related in chapter 13, Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians begins with the words “pursue love”. I know in myself in almost every area of my life I need to be touched and healed this way. I so often think I know what is right, that I must have my own way. My way of expressing that can sometimes be in a blunt instrument kind of mentality to the very ones I love the most. How marriage brings to light the deepest parts that need repentance! I can not love this great love in myself. Yet I long for it so very deeply. I know even this longing comes from our loving Father Himself, as every perfect gift comes from Him. This longing is the personal motivation behind this work. The Bible chapter itself and what it conveys is of utmost importance and a lifetime continual goal in our wonderful walk in God's awesome, beautiful love. If we continually seek to see and know the bottomless love of God in Christ Jesus, He promises to fill us and mold us.