I get a little rattled inside when people say that God is being “full of himself” if what he wants from us is to see his glory. Let’s say that the human race is God’s work of art. How does that reflect on the artist? We bomb each other, enslave each other, cheat on each other, lie, steal and all that stuff. On the other hand, what brings us joy? Holding a baby, seeing spring return after a cold winter, watching a horse run fast, the smell of good food cooking and being shared among people who live in peace with one another, enjoying an undeserved kindness; the list can go on and on. You would add things that I don’t think about. Does all this come from the same Artist? This is a difficult thing for us to think about and wrap our minds around. It would call for an unusual artist to paint his picture in such a way that as you gazed upon it, you could see evil turn into good; watch hate turn into love; war turn peace; brokenness turn into wholeness. If you did see such a picture, it would be amazing. I think that if I saw it, and found out there were more I would want to see more. In fact, if there were a gallery, I would love to visit it often. I would call this art awesome, amazing, and certainly have plenty of good things to say about the artist. There is such a gallery. I call it the Bible. But it is not limited to the Bible. I have a few pictures I keep pinned to my wall to remind me of the amazing work this artist does.
The first one is of my brother and his wife. To make a long (and painful) story exceedingly short, he cheated on the wife of his youth, got a divorce, married the other woman, who died in a car accident. (Remember I said the short version). When he broached the subject of reconciliation with his first wife, she asked him what he thought that looked like. He told her that she should come and live with him and he would take care of her the way he should have the first time. They remarried. I keep a picture of the two of them looking at each other on my refrigerator and tell their story whenever I can. They would call it the glory and grace of God.
Another is a couple in our church. By their own admission, they had wasted their lives and felt convicted that they needed to get to church. They literally wandered into ours and found Love. Such love that when our pastor told them that pirating a cable was stealing, they stopped. When he told them they couldn’t participate in Communion and continue to live in an unmarried state, they got married. They have been ‘in the back’ for too long and they are not going back. Life is far from easy for them but they set an example to all of us what trusting God looks like, especially when it is difficult and inconvenient.
A third one is more church family. One young couple took in a foster daughter with twin babies. They come to church with her and sit where most of the young families do…. Near the door! She is watching a family closely enough that she asks them to adopt her babies. That was about four months ago. Every time I see these parents they look like it is such an honor to have these babies. It stretches them in many ways, but I always see the look on their faces and I am in awe.
If an artist signs his work, we become familiar with the kind of work they do. Why would we begrudge God this honor? Surely he is a difficult Artist to understand sometimes. Most artists are. Sometimes we are in the middle of a work and the transition is painful and difficult to see beyond. That doesn’t change the fact that there will be a finished work. There are two things that amaze me. One is that I can “let my light so shine that men will see what I do and give glory to God” and when God looks down on me, he sees Jesus, his beloved Son. If he can make this happen while we are still creatures of the earth, it is amazing grace.