Stained Glass Windows I - A Painting or A Stained Glass Window?
Monday May 9, 2022
A long time ago I read something that, at that time, I found interesting – but that, now, from personal experience, I understand better.
Here, some words written by Philip Yancey in his book The Writer As Artist:
“Tensions and anxieties burn within me at the moment when I forget that I am living my life for an audience of one, that is Christ … when I slide into a life where I seek to make a name for myself in a very competitive world … Previously, my main motivation in life was to do a painting of myself, filled with bright colors and profound insights, so that all who looked upon it would be impressed. Now, however, I find that my role is to be a mirror, to brightly reflect the image of God through me. Or perhaps the metaphor of stained glass would serve better, for, after all, God will illumine through my personality and body.”
Let’s think about those two images: the painting and the stained glass window.
As a Christian, wanting to be an each-day-more faithful and mature disciple of my Lord Jesus, my job is no longer to be a painter who works at portraying a painting of herself, assuring that it be the most beautiful and passionate painting that exists. Or maybe, because writing fascinates me, my job is no longer to be a writer writing her autobiography:
- Me, doing …
- Me, painting myself in the best possible light, with bright and vivid colors, with dynamic images and profound insights
- Me, writing about my life with colorful and striking words, telling stories of well-being and victory, highlighting my good character and my good works
- Me, wanting to stand out and shine
- Me, wanting to impress
- Me, seeking admiration and the applause of the public
And I remembered two bible passages that have to do with this idea:
1 Corinthians 1:26-29,31 says: “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him … Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Jeremiah 9:23,24 says: “This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.”
As Yancey says, doing a painting of myself is not my role on this earth, and it should not be the motivation that moves me – writing my autobiography is not the task that should be driving my life.
Now my job is simply to be a stained glass window created by God, so that the beauty and the passion of Christ can shine through me. I must assure myself of two things however: first, that the stained glass window is whole, with no broken or chipped glass pieces; and secondly, that it is clean, not dirty or stained. If it is not, if the stained glass window is broken or dirty, the image of the perfect Christ that others ought to see shining through me will be damaged or soiled.
God chose me, not for my wisdom, not for my influence, not for my noble birth; He called me, not for my courage, nor for my wealth. He chose me, “foolish”, and “weak”, “lowly” and “despised” me, to shame the wise and the strong. He chose me just as I am, so that I might not boast in His sublime presence, but that I might boast in Him alone. How then could I possibly do a painting of myself, or write my autobiography, when it is Jesus who deserves to be painted, when it is only He who is worthy of a biography?
Oh God: forgive me for the times when I have gone to a lot of effort to paint myself in the best colors and images possible, forgetting or not wanting to be a simple but precious stained glass window created by You. Help me, oh Lord, to maintain the glass pieces of the stained glass window of my life both whole and clean, so that the grace and the excellence of Christ can always shine through me. Amen.+ REFLECTIONS