Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Luke 18:11-12 (New Stilwell Satirical Version)

"The publician, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, legalists, fundamentalists, traditionalists, or even like this Pharisee. I go to the movies twice a week; I support a tax increase on all that the 1% get.'" Luke 18:11-12 (NSSV)

Self-righteousness goes both ways.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Butterflies and Growingdown

When did the extraordinary become so ordinary?

I distinctly remember the day when my maturing mind had reached a point where the simple things no longer captivated my attention. I was about ten when one of my siblings came running in from outside, panting and exclaiming over the sighting of a butterfly. Hurriedly, so as not to miss of second of beholding that incarnate wonder called butterfly, my siblings raced outside to take in the six-legged spectacle. And I was left standing in the kitchen wondering what the big deal was.

In five months, I'll be leaving the teenage years forever. I've learned a lot since the day the butterfly ceased to impress me. I've graduated from high school. I'm pursuing higher education. My room is now host to a library that seems to breed like a rabbit. And yet, I feel like the whole thing has been nothing more than a journey to take me back to the place where I marvel at butterflies again. It's as if I'm not growing up so much as I'm growing down.

All my studies and books and projects have led me to a conclusion that seemed self-evident at age six. There's no such thing as "ordinary". All things are beautiful and awe-inspiring because every single thing that exists was created for a cosmic purpose.

C.S. Lewis stated: "Art has no survival value but gives survival value." Human beings are the only creatures who make things simply for the pleasure of making them. The bird makes a nest to keep warm. The ape catches ants with a stick because he's hungry. But human beings building gorgeous cathedrals and painting beautiful paintings and create stirring songs for no other reason than that we get pleasure from them. Where did this irrational artisticness come from?

Speaking of Christ, Paul said that not only were all things created by Him but they were created for Him (Colossians 1:16). Moreover, the Twenty-four Elders in Revelation proclaimed that all things were created for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). Take a look around you some time. Look at the blades of grass, the grains of sand, the creeping insects, the flying birds, the floating particles of dust. Look at the details, the glamorous markings of a meticulous Artist. All these things were created for the pleasure of Jesus.

Notice His care for the seemingly unimportant things. No one notes nor cares when you smash a bee or kick the sand. But look at the beauty the Artist put into even these insignificant things. These ordinary things. What grand purpose do they have if not to give the Artist pleasure?

Look at every floating speck of dust. To get that tiny speck there are innumerable combinations of molecules which are made up atoms which are made of elections and neutrons and smaller and smaller we go. Scientists keep finding smaller and smaller particles. Trillions of relationships unseen by humans but delightful to God.

Existence itself is just an immeasurable series of distinct persons forming a single substance which than come together to form another single substance. A billion shadows of the Triune Jehovah. Were it not for the existence of an artistic God the universe would be a scary place.

You and I are just snowflakes in a blizzard, unnoticeable amidst a billion other snowflakes. We could melt at any moment and no one would notice the difference. But each snowflake is a unique display of unreplicable beauty that causes the observant heart to soar and fills its Creator with delight.

At the end of the day, getting to be a part of God's blizzard makes being a melting snowflake worth it. We get to be a drop of paint on His canvass; a letter in His novel; a note in His symphony.

Every time we gaze in wonder at what He's made, we are sharing in the pleasures of God. We get to gaze in wonder at the glories of His masterpiece. Like delighted children, we can marvel at the simplest things because they were created for the pleasure of an awesome God. Life is worth it all just to be a part of His beautiful artistry.

When did the ordinary become so extraordinary?