speaker: Jack Wisdom
passage: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Psalm 32
I didn’t get the chance to talk with Jack on Saturday about what he was speaking on for Sunday morning. This isn’t tragic cause God is faithful and it seems my job is more about being available than being in control. So when I awoke on Sunday, my thoughts and prayers were more about getting to the honest place that I think I need to get to to receive the image.
So I heard from Jack that morning, prayed through the scriptures, and started to see the image. There was a bit of process in this one. I painted the middle figure then the circles of color through most of the music set. Then as Jack spoke I wrote in “friend of sinners” and the “mercy” up top. Then I sat and waited. Later on as he started reading through 2 Corinthians, I made the figure into a crucifixion. This is what I saw, and I believe it was the right image to make.
I had many people come up and tell me how much they liked the painting. I even sold one.
Here’s the thing that probably nobody knew….. I didn’t like the image.
Now hear me out. It’s not that I don’t love Jesus or the cross or anything ridiculous like that. i love both of those things very much… and find them extremely essential to my faith. It’s just I’m not a fan of the whole composition. It’s not the greatest painting I’ve ever made for one…. and I don’t think it’s very complex. It’s a fairly easy image to make and understand.
Why am I saying all this? Because I think when we do things in front of people, we always want to show our best. But what do you do when you are Asked to be obedient in that place and the obedient thing to do is not to make the greatest work ever? But instead to make something simple. To make something you might not even really care for.
I’ve had this happen a few times and it’s very humbling. For one, doing anything in front of people is a very vulnerable place to be. And even with live painting, which I already believe everyone in the room already thinks I’m great cause they know they can’t do it, there’s still a tension with self-doubt and nerves. So in that place, you want to show the best of your ability.
Another reason this is humbling though is that to be Asked to make something simple and even blatantly christ-on-the-cross focused doesn’t seem progressive in the realm of christian arts. I hardly ever put a cross in my paintings. I think we are in a time where people see a cross and go “a cross” and then keep going. no real thought about it. So to counter that, I’ve spent time trying to find other images that evoke thoughts about what the kingdom of God is. Things like trees, houses, water, boats…. these are symbols for journeying, meeting, growth, communion, etc etc. Symbols that aren’t so easy and need some discussion and contemplation. I like this better. I think we need this kind of imagery in the church. We need to keep fostering a smarter visual culture.
Also, and here’s the big “ego statement”, there aren’t a lot of live painters out there, but most of what I’ve seen in the way of painting at a church service are very amateurish, easy subject matter, and cliche to the nth degree. And I guess in some ways, I like that I have a different take on things then most other artists in a small category we are in. I guess it gives me some sense of uniqueness and talent, which is small to say the least, but everyone likes these feeling, yes? Please don’t think my honesty as a sign for a giant ego. I think we all want to be good and unique at something. And for me, I feel like I’m trying to add something skillful and well thought out to the larger conversation about art in the church.
So all that to say, when you get asked to make something simple and seemingly “cliche”, it’s a bit humbling.
But my job isn’t to be skillful and talented. My job is to be obedient. And really, this isn’t about me. It’s about being the one available to give to the community what is desired by the Spirit.
I hope I can always keep this mindset. I’m grateful to journey with a God who is maturing me in all the right ways.
Just another Sunday at Ecclesia.