Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Narrow Way
By Ramone - October 18, 2009
I was praying about what pictures to display at the Jesus Family Center 2009 culture festival, and I felt the Lord stop me at one picture called The Relief of God's Kingdom of Love. He wanted to show me another picture close to that, a picture of the sheer relief of His agape love in contrast with the un-grace of the world, its systems, its values, its tit-for-tats, and how His unconditional love & forgiveness is just such relief from all that!
But I had no idea what I would show in the picture. I prayed what He put in my spirit was the relief of His words "Go now and sin no more." I asked Him and felt Him telling me I should paint the John 8 scene. But how, I asked? "Lord, should I paint You standing between me and the crowd?" He answered, "No, the other way around." He wanted me to paint Him stopping me from stoning and judgment, because what He did in that scene was just as much for them as it was for her!
Not only did He rescue us from the guilt of our sins (like hers) or the delusion of our false righteousness (like theirs), but with His agape love and forgiveness He rescued us from the burden, guilt and unberable weight of judgment, justice, and tit-for-tat unforgiveness.
I was worried the picture was not good enough because of the differing size of the people, the differing planes they seemed to be standing on, and the dark pasty color of some of their faces. While I felt that I should do better planning in future paintings, I also felt Him telling me that He knew it would turn out this way. Their sickly color reflects their stony hearts. Their differing heights and positions has to do with their "stature", as He said in Luke 16:15,
You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.All that said, it is easy to point at "them", isn't it? It's easy to be shocked, shocked, shocked by their judgmentalism. It's easiest for us to identify ourselves with Christ in this scene, and then with a little more honesty we can then identify ourselves with the woman, the "sinner". But here I felt the Lord telling me (and many of us) to look more carefully, because there are so many times when Christians (particularly in America) are standing on the sidelines, waiting to condemn people "in immorality".
Jesus presented another way. A narrow way. A way of grace. And He bids us follow Him in that narrow way. I was surprised when He gave me that as the title for this picture. Why? Because we all think of "the narrow way" as if it means personal holiness, perfection or righteousness. We don't think of the narrow way as being the way of agape love. But the context of Matthew 7 is judging one another, and the narrow way passage follows right after the golden rule.
So He is calling us, calling us out of the wide road of our "righteous" condemnation. He is calling us to another way, a narrow way: To love as He has loved us while we were still sinners, while we were His enemies. To encourage the weak. To forgive the unforgiveable. To cleanse the unclean. To touch the outcast. To wipe the dirt away and lovingly help someone up. To identify with the transgressor. To follow Him on the narrow way of grace, the way of agape love.
See also: "Right" vs. "Righteous" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)