Thursday, May 7, 2020


I love art. I have a bit of an addiction to it. I can look at a piece of art and feel my heart rate increase in response to the beauty I see. This happens when I listen to particular beautiful music too. I'm guessing you experience this also. And most impactful is going out into nature and having your breath taken away by the sunrise, water, mountains, or an animal that walks into your view. 

The artist is revealed in the work he or she creates.

I love the author John Eldredge so I'm using his thoughts here. Not only is the artist in the work they create - but the abundance of the work created. Think of the ocean. Picture it in your mind. The thundering of the breakers on the reef a hundred yards out, and beyond that the open ocean. What does this tell us about Jesus? What words come to mind? Majestic, powerful, wild, dangerous.

Yes, tempestuous, like the clearing of the temple. "His eyes like the grey o' the sea," as Ezra Pound wrote, "the sea that brooks no voyaging." But also playful as it laps at your feet, swirling round your toes, pulling the sand away from beneath you as Jesus ever so gently pulls the rug out from under us.

Imagine being on the beach - sand scattered at your feet like a thousand shells, delicate, intricate, the work of a jeweler. An artist with very small tools and exceptional eyesight. What does it tell us about the artist? Creation is epic and intimate. He is epic and intimate. Everywhere around you, an obsession with beauty and attention to detail. But most of all - the abundant generosity strewn around, constantly rolling in. It's as if someone took the family silver and ran down the beach, tossing handfuls here and there like a madman. How do you describe this extravagance? What kind of person acts like this?

Think of the wedding at Cana where they ran out of wine and Jesus turned water into wine from six stone water jars which held up to about thirty gallons each. That would be close to 180 gallons filled to the brim. That would be about 908 bottles of wine. 

Nine hundred eight.

And Jesus didn't provide cheap wine as the maitre d' expected, given the lateness of the hour. He gave the very best wine. Stunning generosity. Isaiah says "the whole earth is filled with his glory" (Isaiah 6:3). 

Oh, the beauty of Jesus. 

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matt 7:7). Jesus would not have urged us to pray if he were unapproachable. Jesus is generous and celebratory (the wine at the party). 

Just like sunshine. 

What daily radiance is showered upon us. What immense golden goodness! Every single day, over so much of the planet. It saturates our world, warming the earth, raising the crops in the fields by silent resurrection, unfolding flowers, causing birds to break out in song with the dawning of each day. It bathes everything else in light, which then enables us to behold and enjoy, to live and work and explore. What a gift sunlight is -- coming and going. Have you ever gotten up in the darkness of early morning and prayed through the dawn? As you draw nearer to God, the room begins to grow lighter and lighter while the spiritual air clears around you. With a final amen, the golden glowing light of sunrise fills the room like the presence of God. 

We get hours of it, every day. Hundreds and hundreds of gallons. What does this sunshine tell us about the personality of Jesus? What does the gift of our senses tell us about Jesus?! 

People come to terrible conclusions when they assume this world is exactly as God intended. The earth is broken. Which only makes the beauty that does flow so generously that much more astounding. And reassuring. 

What do we make of the gift of water? You can swim in it, but also float upon it. You can drink it and surf it. Droplets fall from the sky in staggering abundance, yet it also flows in streams and rivers. It makes one sound as a brook, another as a waterfall, and something else altogether in the silence of falling snow. This extravagance is almost scandalous. 

Remember -- the heart of the artist is revealed in their work. Here and there and everywhere, the creations of Jesus spring like characters from a fairy tale over the earth. Dragon flies? Porcupines? Musk ox, their great shaggy kilts hanging round them and mighty horns swooping down, look like creatures if not from Norse mythology then certainly from ancient times. Not something walking around this moment just north of us. Really now -- what do we have here? Who do we have here?

It's important to understand an important distinction -- there is Christianity, and then there is church culture. They are not the same. Often they are far from the same. They personality conveyed through much of Christian culture is not the personality of Jesus but of the people in charge of that particular franchise. Tragically, the world looks at funny hats or big hair, gold thrones and purple curtains, stained glass or fog machines and assumes this is what Jesus must be like. When you are confronted with something from Christian culture, ask yourself: Is this the true personality of the God of the wind and the desert, the God of sunshine and the open sea? This will dispel truckloads of religious nonsense. 

The New Testament is filled with Jesus late into the night, early in the morning, walking down the road, in the middle of his supper, at home, abroad - offering Himself.  His time, His words, His touch, flowing like the wine at Cana. Jesus gives Himself. This is what He came to give and what we most desperately need. 

Jesus points to a field of wheat. Imagine trying to count the number of kernels in one acre. Immeasurable abundance. Turning our gaze to those luxuriant fields, he says, "Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over" (John 12;24 The Message). 

The point He is making is that He has come to share His life with us. He is called "the author of life," who personally "sustains all things" (Acts 3:15; Heb. 1:3). 

This is the life He offers us; this is the extravagance with which he offers it. Jesus didn't only give His life for mankind, He also gives His life to mankind. It is showered upon us daily like mana. The man was generous. Extravagant. He still is. 

Even Unto Death/I Will Love You
Audrey Assad

1 comment:

  1. Love your words! So true! Jesus' majesty and love is revealed in nature. When I see his miracles in nature, it reminds me that He cares for the details of our lives. Beautiful song too! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts about Jesus!