April 1, 2013

Jesus puts people in the picture

Back in the day when I painted landscapes, I noticed that even the most appeal scenes increased in their appeal by the addition of a living thing. It might be a bird in the distant sky or a small rabbit in the grass. Even insects added life and turned a scenic still life into a more vibrant vista.

Today’s devotional writer notices the same thing about Jesus Christ, the master artist. Throughout the New Testament as He speaks of nature, He always includes people. They are never intrusions into the scene but a central focus, whether a farmer going out to sow his seed or a fisherman casting his nets.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin… if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28, 30)

I cannot imagine a God who doesn’t love nature, but this One God looks at the lilies of the field and sees more than lovely flowers. Instead, they remind Him of Solomon in all his glory and He uses their beauty as a way to illustrate how He takes care of our need for clothing, even our need for color and form.

Looking at brilliant tulips, colorful wood ducks and gold, pink and purple sunsets, I’ve often thought that God could have made them gray. Think of the pleasure of creating wheat fields that wave in the wind and sandstone that the wind carves into soaring sculptures. Not only that, He could have given us eyes that only perceived dullness and hearts that didn’t care about balance, but He didn’t. He gave us scenic wonders scenes and the ability to appreciate beauty.

The devotional mentions that we can go overboard in our love of nature though. We can drop out the people and turn it into a winsome escape from them, an isolation without life. Instead of that escape, Jesus sets an example. His love for creation never caused Him to abandon those around Him. Instead, He puts us prominently in the painting and lets the scene be a lovely backdrop for those whom He loves, and the backdrop becomes an illustration for the beauty, care and creativity that He intends to be a blessing for us.

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