Imagine the pain. Of the thorns. Of the nails. Of the torn skin from brutal lashes. The crucifixion is nothing to get sentimental about.
I call this "Through the Pain". I have been playing with the idea of using abstract art to, somewhat paradoxically, communicate how the crucifixion of Jesus is no mere theological abstraction. That if we leave the crucifixion in the realms of abstract theology we miss its terrible humanity. Think of that this Easter.
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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
I find it arresting that self control is often listed as a Spiritual virtue in the New Testament. As a new Christian I was often told how important it was to understand the difference between works and faith, between self effort and God's grace. Why, if we are saved by grace, should we be talking about self control. Is that not tied up with works?
Well, yes it is, but there is an important order to things. For works to activate grace would be the tail wagging the dog. It is not the true order of things. We are saved by grace, not by works. But it does not follow that works have no place in the Christian life. Dogs do have tails. If our faith in God's grace is genuine, our actions will reflect it. Following this logic, self control is an outworking of God's grace. As we come to trust God more than the things of this world, their control over us will weaken and we will begin to exercise control over them. The only urge we will have less and less control over is our urge for God and God's call. Look where the dog's eyes are fixed.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)
Have you ever heard Atheists define faith this way: "I regard faith as religious belief which is held without evidence. If someone thinks that a bus will arrive on time per its schedule, then that person has trust or confidence, not faith."
It is a false dichotomy of course. One which many thoughful Christians would object to as unscriptural, misleading, even disingenious. But it is so well entrenched within the Atheist community that I'm starting to feel attempts to expand their linguistic awareness are futile.
Maybe a better approach would be to affirm, "Well if that is your definition of faith, then the good news is faith is not necessary for living the Christian life ... only trust and confidence are." For the essential issue is not whether Reality is real or not, but whether it is blind, pityless and indifferent or not. I just happen to have confidence, given my life experience and the accounts of trustworthy witnesses, that Reality really, really cares.
"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 17:1-2)
Hey, what if evil is closer to home than you think? This painting by Dasha Biggs is called "The Whore of Babylon". With her lady liberty headgear I'm sure you can figure out what he is suggesting.