2 Corinthians 3:16–18 (NLT): 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

I’ve always been captivated by abstract art. At first glance it can seem like there is only a mess to see. A blast of spilled color, scraped with a palette knife. A mixture of paint, paper mache, newspaper and magazine clippings, silly putty, duct tape, barb wire, bailing twine, modge podge and dry wall mud. After spending some time and consideration I find beauty in the chaos. It has destroyed my attempt to classify art in two categories, “good art” and “bad art.”

The beauty of abstract art comes from the complexity of ideas, mediums, emotion, difficult expressions and the backstory of its creator. The artist uses the available mediums and how they bond together or resist bonding together to form a work of beauty. All of this expressed by crafting a myriad of items into a work of splendor. In this I have learned there are not two categories of art, “good art” and “bad art.” This art reminds me of Jesus, the original artist and as I mature in this life of following Jesus I am seeing people in a very different way than I saw them when I began.

I used to see people in two camps that could be categorized in ways such as, saved or unsaved, believer or unbeliever,church people or unchurched people. In that thought process it really became classification of “inferior and superior.” What I’m seeing now are people, all people as beautiful works of our Creator God. People that Jesus greatly loves. People that Jesus has done and is doing great things for and wants to live His greatness through. It is true there are some that don’t believe, rebel, protest, and hate the Creator, but they are nonetheless beautiful works of art bearing the image of our Creator God.

This is an aspect of “the veil lifted” and I am seeing beautiful people that are struggling in or against the truth of our Creator rather than people that are inferior. The veil is being lifted on who we are. Even the most evil non-believing, unrepentant rebel is God’s creation and the fabric he or she is made of is adorned with the very image of God.

But more importantly, I am seeing my brothers and sisters who have accepted Jesus’ Lordship and forgiveness as those covered in His righteousness. I am seeing past their failings and accepting they are covered in Jesus’ perfect righteousness. The struggle is no longer about having perfect behavior as a form of holiness or a pathway to God’s forgiveness. The struggle is to keep grasp on the reality of Jesus’ amazing splendor expressed through His gift of righteousness and forgiveness. The struggle is remembering to live a life that honors Him and His costly gift.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with messy people in a world that has been forgiven. In a community called church. We are a band of forgiven rebels. We recognize Jesus is the delivered promise to reconcile us to God. However, we still have a slant towards managing our sin rather than focusing on the complete forgiveness and identity Jesus has provided. I am deeply saddened by this “slant” because it is the forgiveness and new identity made available through Jesus that is the motivation for people like me to live an obedient life of gratitude to Jesus. So many people in churches have embraced a counterfeit version of “Christianity.” that drives them to live in private shame or even celebrate their sin. In turn they have sacrificed the true fellowship of freedom to a prison of shame and develop a list of “acceptable sins” that bring no honor to Jesus. This is a well intended attempt but it really just cheapens the reality of Jesus love, sacrifice and forgiveness. Jesus’ costly sacrifice and gift to forgive sin was not given to live in shame, celebrate or dismiss sin.

I am learning that we are a group of sinful failures that have been restored due to Jesus commitment to us. We aren’t given freedom to sin. We are given freedom to know that when we do sin it is covered and there is no condemnation towards us.

We are sinful failures that Jesus has made into glorious works of art.

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