There is a true need for expressive arts. We can help others have hope and learn that they are changeable and there is grace and mercy. We can help others learn they can make difficult choices to experience peace. Expressive arts can be public, but it can also be unlisted (for a small audience), and private (for you alone). We can help teach that there is a real God, who is filled with love, and ready to help. Lastly, we can be a part of helping others accept that their value and self worth is not determined by positions, possessions, or accomplishments. People are valuable.
Reconcile the Past
It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. 14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. 16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. The Message (MSG) 2 Corinthians 5:11-14
Glean from the Past
Take a moment and ask yourself:
Who are the people that walk by your side and help you? What were some of the things they did in their own life to cultivate the strength and power to help you?
What can you do in this moment to be creative and express your appreciation of them?
We are told by Paul in the Biblical book 1 Corinthians 3:7 that it is neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. I find this to be very reassuring. I can remember peers as early as elementary school that I encouraged in the Lord and also women recently who have been in long-term Bible studies with me. Yet, everyone continues to grow and change. Friends move away, Bible studies end, dance & art students complete their course work and move into careers. It would be very satisfying to watch these people grow and thrive and believe that I had a part to do with it. It’s lovely that technology and social media make it possible to stay in touch from a distance. In communications over the years I have had my share of generous thank you notes and messages. I’m grateful when someone attributes something special about their growth to me as a teacher, mentor, or a part of their Christian counsel. I like to save those things and keep them for a rainy day.
Consider creating something for someone today. It might just be a rainy day for them.
Send LOVE into the Future
Here are some inspiring resources from a letter to the people living in Galatia. Maybe it will help you consider the ways you might express your appreciation (through art) for the people who walk by your side.
6 1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
4-5 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
6 Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
7-8 Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
11-13 Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!
14-16 For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!
17 Quite frankly, I don’t want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus.
People are valuable and it’s a good time to affirm the precious ways they’ve help us. Expressive arts can be used publically, unlisted (shared with only a few), and privately. Let’s help others have hope and learn that they are changeable and there is grace and mercy. Let’s help people know they can make difficult choices and experience peace. Let’s help teach that there is a real God, who is filled with love, and ready to help. Lastly, let’s be a part of helping others accept that their value and self worth is not determined by positions, possessions, or accomplishments. You are valuable, so are your words, songs, dances, drawings, and artistic expressions.