March 14, 2007

Universal principles for art, for life

Last night’s lecture was about the elements of design. These apply to all art forms and are universally understood by artists from every part of the world. The person who gave the lecture not only had a firm grasp of her topic, but it seemed an integral part of who she is. Her slides included her creative and wonderful art, but also other examples of these elements in photographs taken from her world travels. I was mesmerized.

Many artisans grasp these principles without being taught. They seem to just know how line, shape, movement, unity, contrast, and so on, work together to make a successful and pleasing result. Others do not. They try to create something artistic and are frustrated with the result. It might be out of balance, lack harmony, or be missing a focal point. If an instructed artist makes a few suggestions, they can see the problem, but not without that extra help.

This applies not only to art, but to my spiritual life. It too operates according to specific principles. If things are going wrong, it will be because I’ve neglected or forgotten one or more of them. For instance, if I choose to disobey God, I will lose my sense of fellowship with Him. I will experience guilt. I might be able to turn it off for a little while, but because I am His child, He will not leave me entirely without discipline. As my Heavenly Father, this is what He does.

Eventually I must confess my sin. When I do, He is faithful and just; He forgives my sin and cleanses me from my unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Then that sense of being right with Him and having fellowship with Him is restored.

Peace with God is another huge part of spiritual life. Before I became a Christian, whether I felt it or not, I did not have that peace. Because of my sin, I was under the wrath of God and separated from Him. When Jesus came, He provided atonement, an appeasing sacrifice to cover my sin and satisfy the wrath of God. That wrath was poured out on Christ at Calvary. When God opened my eyes to the reality of what Jesus had done, I experienced peace with God.

Ephesians 2 says, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation. . . .” By becoming my substitute on the cross, Jesus also became my peace. He took care of the sin that separated me from God.

These are spiritual principles, as true and as universal as those principles of design. Jesus uses terms like, “Whosoever will. . . “ and “No one can come to the Father except through Me.” He excludes no one, because everyone has sinned, everyone has fallen short of the standards of Almighty God. But everyone can come. Everyone is invited.

There are some people who seem to understand many of the principles of life without any knowledge of these deeper spiritual principles. They live happy, productive lives, handle their problems without falling apart, and claim to be fulfilled. They say they don’t need God, but Jesus and universal spiritual laws say otherwise. The Bible says that it is appointed that everyone will die and face judgment. God will require from all of us an accounting of our lives. Some may claim that they lived well, and maybe they did, but that is not what God is looking for. He is looking for what we do with His Son, the Son who came to unite us with Him, to make peace between us, to take care of that judgment for sin that we would otherwise face.

Last night as I listened to the lecture, I thought, I know these things, but I’ve not been paying attention, not been really using what I know to make beautiful things. This may not be a big issue for my life, but without applying what I know, what I do create will be missing some elements.

The other parts of my life are no different, yet spiritual principles are far more important because of the eternal value attached to them. Yesterday was profound for my artistic side, and the thoughts generated by this lecture are even more profound. They have me thinking about life and praising the wonder of my Savior and Lord who wrote the book on how it is supposed to be lived.

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