photo from google
I am incredibly blessed to be a part of a living, thriving body of believers. I often marvel at God's blessings to me in this, and can't be thankful enough that I get to be part of it.
Part of what I love so much about my brothers and sisters is the perspectives and the gifts they bring to the brotherhood. Today we were blessed to hear about church history from a man who knows and enjoys his stuff and delivers it in an interesting and informed way.
He went into some detail today about monasticism and the role that played in church history. I must admit to a certain fascination with the subject and one of my very favorite books deals extensively with this subject.
There is a certain beauty in the starkness and the austerity of that lifestyle. Sadly, a lot of these stories didn't end well, with corruption becoming prevalent in the monasteries.
I picked up the book again and am re-reading it. It is incredibly well-written, crafted by one who knows how to work words.
After I put the book down and turned out my light, my mind began wandering toward the other end of the spectrum.
As a conservative Anabaptist Christian, I haven't heard much teaching on this subject. We choose to live simply and abandon all for Christ, estranged from the world in mind and thought.
But there are those among us who are Artists of sorts. Gifted with the pen, with a voice, with a quick and keen mind. People who feel things deeply. People who are often misunderstood. And honestly, sometimes I don't know what to do with it all.
It feels frivolous, to care or be concerned with such things when the world is falling apart. When people are being beheaded and bodies are stiff with death from ebola.
And yet, I think God designed us for worship, for expressing our thoughts and feelings to Him beautifully and with care. Yes, it can easily be taken too far and turned into something else. Something called pride. When we use our talents and display them to draw attention to ourselves, to create spaces that cause other people to admire us unduly and cause jealousy (aka social media), that becomes a problem.
When I feel a thrill upon reading a well written line, hear a difficult chord sung beautifully, admire a beautiful painting or hear a brilliant, well-delivered address, I need to realize that God wants me to enjoy it. But He is most pleased when I walk in obedience, when I live well in the ordinary, when my feet get dusty with the common.
He created us with the capacity to enjoy and the need to worship. As individuals we worship differently and uniquely. While He loves the worship of hundreds of perfectly on-pitch voices of talented singers, I think He still thrills to the off-key, but enthusiastic praises of another group. He is praised in the well-written, but also in the writings of the uneducated. He values the childish paintings of a three year old as much as perfect portraits of the talented.
He is adored in the simple, as much as in the talented.
Is it wrong to enjoy the beautiful and the well-done? Absolutely not! But if it is anything more than a natural out -working of a heart turned towards it's Maker, beware.
Madeline L Engle' says it well:
The purpose of the story or music or painting is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as Children of God,
and to turn our feet towards HOME.
image also from google
Be blessed, and worship well!