For 3 weeks every fall season, our city becomes an art gallery. Nearly 2,000 artists from around the world display their creations in galleries, museums, hotels, parks, city streets, parking lots, restaurants, churches, and even in the river.
Among my favorite entries are mosaics made from small pieces of colored glass. The winning entry in 2011 was a 9 x 13-foot stained-glass mosaic of the crucifixion by artist Mia Tavonatti. While viewing the artwork, I heard the artist discuss how many times she had cut herself while shaping the pieces of glass for her mosaic.
As I gazed at the beautiful rendition of what was a horrific event, I saw more than a representation of the crucifixion—I saw a picture of the church, the body of Christ. In each piece of glass I saw an individual believer, beautifully shaped by Christ to fit together into the whole (Eph. 2:16,21). In the artist’s story, I recognized the shedding of Jesus’ blood so that this unity could take place. And in the finished artwork, I saw the act of love required to complete the project despite pain and sacrifice.
We who believe in Christ are a work of art created by God to show the greatness of a Savior who makes something beautiful out of the broken pieces of our lives.
The church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord, She is His new creation, By water and the Word. —Stone
Christ gave everything to make something beautiful of His church.
Years ago I asked a young man who was engaged to be married, “How do you know that you love her?” It was a loaded question, intended to help him look at his heart’s motives for the upcoming marriage. After several thoughtful moments, he responded, “I know I love her because I want to spend the rest of my life making her happy.”
We discussed what that meant—and the price tag attached to the selflessness of constantly seeking the best for the other person, rather than putting ourselves first. Real love has a lot to do with sacrifice.
That idea is in line with the wisdom of the Bible. In the Scriptures there are several Greek words for love but the highest form is agape love—love that is defined and driven by self-sacrifice. Nowhere is this more true than in the love our heavenly Father has shown us in Christ. We are deeply valued by Him. Paul stated, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
If sacrifice is the true measure of love, there could be no more precious gift than Jesus: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 nlt).
Amazing love! How can it be That Thou, my God, Shouldst die for me? —Wesley
The measure of love is what you are willing to give up for it.
As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, Paul mentions two great benefits for the follower of Christ. In verse 1, he says that we have “peace with God,” an idea that he unpacks in Philippians 4, where we read of the incomprehensible peace of God, but also the relationship we have with the God of peace Himself (vv.8-9). In Romans 5:2, Paul also declares that we now have “access” to God. This was a stunning idea that he explained more fully in Colossians 1:21, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” We receive the gifts of peace with God and access to God because of Christ’s loving sacrifice on our behalf.
Christopher Locke buys old trumpets, trombones, and French horns and transforms them into acoustic amplifiers for iPhones and iPads. His creations are modeled on the trumpetlike speakers used in the first phonographs during the late 1800s. Music played through Christopher’s AnalogTelePhonographers has a “louder, cleaner, richer, deeper sound” than what is heard from the small speakers in the digital devices. Along with being interesting works of art, these salvaged brass instruments require no electrical power as they amplify the music people love to hear.
Paul’s words to the followers of Jesus in Corinth remind us today that in living for Christ and sharing Him with others, we are not the music but only a megaphone. “For we do not preach ourselves,” Paul wrote, “but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). Our purpose is not to become the message, but to convey it through our lives and our lips. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (v.7).
If an old horn can amplify music, then perhaps our flawed lives can magnify the goodness of God. We’re the megaphone; the music and the power come from Him!
Thank You, Lord, that You can take our lives and use them in ways we never thought possible. Help us to be the instruments that convey the music of Your love.
Nothing is unusable in God’s hands.
Paul was careful to ensure that his motives and methods were completely aboveboard (2 Cor. 4:2). Careful not to be accused of being a huckster who profited monetarily from the ministry (2:17), Paul ensured that his message was true, his motives were pure, and his methods were proper (4:2). He also spoke of the need for integrity in ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10.