For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
I received a new book in the mail today. It is by Terry Glaspey, a friend of mine and editor of two of my books. The book is 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know and it just recently received a book of the year award from Christianity Today. From Michelangelo to Mahalia Jackson, Dante to U2, and Van Gogh to It’s A Wonderful Life, the book is a collection of art, literature, architecture, music and film that captures truth and beauty in some form worthy of reflection.
I like this book for a couple of reasons.
First, there is the realization that for a book such as this one to be written and published means that a general world view has been reached by the wider Christian community that was not formerly known in my early years. At that time, the world was divided into that which was secular and that which was Christian, and all of art, literature and music fit into either of those camps, and the Christian camp was relatively small, since you had to be sure that the artist or musician was a Christian (and an evangelical one at that) before you could rest assured that their work was safe.
Now, the fact that this book could be written and published by a Christian publishing house says we have come a long way in our thinking. No longer do we have to legitimize a work of art by the artist, but we can judge it on its merits alone. Is it a true statement about the world? Is it beautiful? Can you find truth in it?
The second thing this book does, (at least for me), is to encourage me to live artfully. To look for art and beauty all around me.
God gave us an incredible gift in human creativity, and it is one of the ways we mirror His image. To be fully appreciated, this gift should work its way into our everyday lives.
One of the first to champion this perspective on life was Edith Schaeffer, wife of theologian/philosopher Francis Schaeffer. Hidden Art, published in 1971, followed 16 years later by The Art of Living were books that were ahead of their time. In them Edith talked about art in the home, in the meals we eat, the garden we keep, the way we dress and the way we arrange our lives.
I must admit, I feel different when I have on a nice shirt and slacks than when I am dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. I feel more serious the first way, like I am working on making a contribution to life. It takes an effort to both appreciate art and to make life artful, but it is worth it in the quality of life we create and enjoy.
My wife, Marti, spends a good deal of time on her face, her hair and the clothes she wears every day. She does this whether she ever walks out the door or not. I used to think this was a waste of time. I do not anymore. She is creating, every day, a thing of beauty. It’s how she presents herself. It is a part of her life and her art.
Terry Glaspey has called our attention to 75 masterpieces we should know about. I’m convinced that learning about those masterpieces will train us to start to notice and even create masterpieces around us. We are not just slogging along. We are an important part of God’s universe and we are living not just for ourselves but for principalities and powers, and unseen rulers in heavenly places. (Yes, someone is watching, in other words.) You are a workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10). Live like you mean it.
Mark your calendars. Author Terry Glaspey will be my guest on BlogTalkRadio a week from Tuesday (January 24, 2017) to discuss his new book, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know.