“My wife is the most beauiful woman in the world,” Stan announced to Barry while lunch being prepared by his wife Donna, who was in the kitchen with Barry’s wife Joanne.1
“You think so!” said Barry.
“Did you see that dress she was wearing today?”
“Yes, I did. It was pretty. I like the way the colors were so nicely blended.”
“I like the way it shows off her faultless frame and makes her look years younger.”
There was an uneasy pause.
“How’s she doing, really?” Barry asked.
Stan coughed. “Better than we ever hoped. The scar on her face is beginning to heal, and the plastic surgery on the other side of her face looks like it’s going to take.”
“Will Joanne ever get her good looks back, Stan?”
“We don’t know. The cut from the broken window glass made quite a gash in her cheek, and the scrape across the left side of her face removed several layers of tissue. It’s all hidden under the bandages. She can’t smile or tolerate it if anyone touches her face. But she’s never lost her good looks, Barry. She’s the most beautiful woman in the world.”
[Thought Questions for God as Artist March 14, 2012]
1. Opening questions. In the story above, was Stan just being overly optimistic or do you think he truly saw beauty in his wife as she recovered from serious injuries to her face? Have you ever loved somone before as well as after a terrible crash or disease that changed his or her looks or abilities? Do you think God sees you and me as beautiful? If you were an adviser to God, could you suggest some individuals that need a thorough makeover before they could ever again be considered as beautiful? Do you have a list of things you’d like God to change about your looks so that you could spend eternity as a beautiful person? Is it helpful spiritually to admire beauty?
2. Is God an artist? What is the most beautiful or awe-inspiring bit of nature that you’ve ever seen? Was it a sunrise or sunset? An acquarium stirred by the moving of colorful tropical fish? A forest blanketed with white snow? A just-born baby sobbing its greeting to the world? A breathtaking work of stained glass with a religious motif in a cathedral? A cathedral vibrating with the pounding of pipes expressing the music of a holy hymn of praise? Or a page of numbers in scattered equations that end up with a beautiful = mark that proves the trail of numbers was right on? How much of these types of beauty originate with God? Why?
3. We’re the clay. Have you ever had the opportunity of studying the intricacies of one human cell? or the structure of a bone? or the mechanism of the heartbeat pumping blood through our bodies? How do you believe these components came to be? Is the understanding of scientists limited in knowing how the body functions? Why? or Why not? Do you feel closer to God by thinking of Him as the Master Craftsman who formed Adam from the soil? How could that happen? What about the whole process of reproduction–is it a beautiful thing from conception to birth? Why did God give sinful creatures the ability to “make” babies? As a humble follower of Jesus, sharing His love with those around us, can you imagine a higher privilege than to be remade in His image? Can we be beautiful spiritually before we become perfect spiritually?
4. The heavenly Architect. Fifty chapters of the first five books of the Bible, your lesson tells us, are dedicated to describing the building of a beautiful sanctuary. What sort of thoughts about our Creator God come to your mind when you read these detailed directions? Do the intricate instructions tell you something about the nature of God? Is He, for example, a God of detail? A God who can combine thousands of details to create breathtaking art? Is the work of architectural design in heaven complete at this time, waiting for us to see all that God has made? Or do you think He’ll keep building and working with us as we build more houses of glory to Him on into eternity?
5. The Musician. How would you fare as part of a 4,000-member orchestra? Remember in the first couple of years in elementary school when the teacher handed out wooden hammers and metal triangles and bells, and you were part of an orchestra? Or later when you may have played in the bell choir? Or chose a band or orchestra instrument to learn to play until you were old enough to finish high school? Do you think that music written by God would be thunderingly loud? Or tantalizingly soft? Or both? Some people today (mostly old ones like me) shudder when the music is too loud or when the people singing it seem to be having “too much fun” with their music in church. What styles of music are appropriate for which churches? How about inviting Jesus to be the Minister of Music as your church and learn from Scripture how He would like you to come to Him in music?
6. The Author. How is Bible poetry different from the poetry written today? How is it the same? Have you ever tried to write Bible poetry? Just repeat some of the words and phrases and add your own, to make a beautiful song in words. Which parts of the Bible are breathtaking drama? Which parts are recitals of who-where-when and how old? What about poetry and cries for help or redemption? Which of the prophecies of Scripture are written in a poetic style? Think of examples of how Jesus was able to condense powerful messages into just a few words. Can you imagine being bored at such presentations? Did Jesus use the powers of His voice when He spoke? Should we try to be more careful when we speak to fellow Christians and others so that they see our love for them before we tell them how correct we are?
7. The Sculptor. Page through the Old Testament, and you will find dozens of examples of statues, idols, altars, and letters shaped from rocks or metal. Why? Has your church ever built a metal monument? If you decided to construct a three-dimensional object to represent the creative power of God, what would it look like? Is the best art the art that is closest to reality? Or can good art represent some aspect of truth or beauty that we as observers can interpret ourselves? Does God take on humanity in His work as a Sculptor? What about Mary? What about John? and Peter? And others? What do you need to do for God to reform you in His image? Why?
8. The Redeemer. Did you know that studies show that people of all intelligence levels and degrees of experience can learn to express themselves artistically? Just because you’ve never tried doesn’t mean you couldn’t. With a pencil and a piece of paper, or a stack of colored pencils, or a collection of colored paints and brushes, or a piano and an organ, a shovel and flower seeds, or whatever you can find to open up the doors of creative expression, you can come closer to our God our master Creator. Is our redemption a work of the Creator? What do the two processes have in common? Does God’s creative heart beat for us? Does He long to communicate with us at an artistic level in some area of our lives? What can we do to close the gap and come closer to our Master Artist?