Friday, July 17, 2015

The Painter's Gospel

Well, isn't this a cozy room?

Deep burgundy with white crown molding and wainscoting.  A generous, ten foot ceiling.  Tasteful homemade decorations.  A couple of framed pictures.

Any guest could be comfortable here. 

True, it won't ever rise to grace the cover of Home Beautiful.

But still, it is a very comfortable and if I might say, pretty room.  A room you could definitely live with.

As long as you looked no closer . . .

If you peer beyond the distraction of our ornate table with seven matching chairs (and one folding chair!), you might see several holes in the drywall.

If you glanced beneath the large painting, you would find greasy fingerprints and hardened food that no amount of scrubbing will ever remove.

If you took all the pictures down, then you would see things as they really are.

My naked wall.

You would discover two large nails spikes lodged behind the custom framed work of art.  They won't budge.  You can't pull them out.  Any attempt to do so also pulls on the stud and causes cracks and bulges in the drywall six inches above.  You can't pound them in.  They bend either upward or downward, making ever larger gashes.

So, you just hang a pretty picture over them and do your best to forget.

 Until one day, you can't live with it any longer.

Wait a minute.  Are we still talking about interior design?  Cause, for a moment there, it almost sounded like my life.

You see, I was a "good girl".  Lots of distracting, ornamental features.  Didn't get into trouble.  At least not much.  As good as most, maybe better than some.

Until you start stripping away the homeschool decorations, the "church girl" artwork, the fancy table and the lone folding chair that showcases I'm still humble.

And then you are left with holes and stains and stubborn sins that just won't budge.

And that color!  Can anything cover this dreadful, bleeding burgundy?!

"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18

This is the stage of Salvation known as Conviction.

You move out of the "I Can Live With This" era into the "Something Must Change" mind frame.

And so you start tearing things down and researching.  Maybe you check out self help books at the library.

This is where things get critical.  Every single person that has ever lived must come to this place.  The place where you realize you are in over your head.  The place where you give up.  The place where you call for help.

And I don't mean Ace Hardware.

The religions of this world are basically arranged like aisle's at your favorite home improvement store.  Let's call this store Self-Way.  Every tool for self improvement is at your disposal.  There are texts you are expected to follow to the letter.  There's paint and sand paper and gadgets.  Oh, and baubles!  Tons of baubles and doodads designed to cover up and distract.

But there's just one problem.  The best paint in the world is no match for that bleeding burgundy.  The patches gloss over the holes, only to sink into them a month later.  And no wire cutter can ever cut through those two stubborn spikes still lodged behind the art.

I need the Carpenter from Nazareth.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Jesus doesn't cover over holes.  He fills them.

Most of the holes in my wall are from nails that I pounded in myself.  First you have to pull the nails out.  Every sin, no matter how small, leaves a hole.

Some of these holes, however, are wounds, inflicted by others or by circumstances, compounded by my own bitterness and anger.  Just watch my six year old pull out the chairs so that he can sweep under the table.  A thoughtless yank and Whack!  There's another six inch gouge.

Jesus fills these injuries with special care.

"A bruised reed shall he not break . . . He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth." Isaiah 42:3,4    

Jesus, along with his Father and the Holy Spirit, handle all the preparation.  I can add nothing to this work.  If I tried to help, I would only get in the way and smudge it all.  All I can do is stand back and let God do His work.

Finally, it's time to get rid this awful color.

"My sins are blotted out I know!"
 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:9-10

Christ's atonement is two fold.  First he takes our sins and he pays them all himself.  I go from being in debt by a gazillion trillion times infinity, to "paid up".  This is like applying the primer.  It covers everything.

" . . . without the shedding of blood is no remission {of sin} . . . and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Hebrews 9:22,  10:17

But, he doesn't just leave us with a zero balance.  As my brother warned me, primer is very fragile.  It scuffs and picks up dirt quite easily.  I was amazed to find dirt stuck in my primer, way up by the ceiling.  No, having the sin covered is wonderful.  But it's not nearly enough.

"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." Titus 3:5

Jesus covers us with his own impeccable righteousness.  When God the Father looks at us, all He sees is His precious Son.  We are accepted, not because my drywall is better than my neighbor's drywall.  It's because my drywall is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and His right-ness has been applied over it.

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." Psalm 32:1-2

So, where am I now?  I have been stripped bare, sanded down, patched, primed and painted.  It doesn't even look like the same room anymore.  But for what purpose?  So that I can stand around and admire the walls?  An empty room meant only to be gazed at belongs in a museum.  You can look, but you don't dare touch.

Jesus has a much higher purpose in mind than simple decoration.

"What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Jesus, Lord of all, came not to be served, but as a servant.  Even so must we not expect to be served and catered to, but to be an instrument of service.

"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27-28

You would expect a Dining Room to be filled with Dinners and Diners.  And guess who promises to be our guest?!

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

This is it.

This is the purpose of life. 

The reason I was created!

Jesus bought all the supplies, he made every preparation, he accomplished the work, just so that we can sit together in fellowship, (sharing a cup of coffee, if you will)  for all of eternity. 

Thank you, Master!

P. S.  I rehung my pictures yesterday.  I know I made a few mistakes that are going to leave holes.  The kids have whacked the corners a few times already.  But there is a can of touch up paint in the garage.

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16

Did I mention this is scrubbable paint?  'Cause we're going to need it!