After reflecting on yesterday's great sermon from Missio Dei, I was taken back to something I wrote a couple of years ago which still serves as a great reminder to me ... Ongoingly prayerful over this in my daily walk ...
"There is a painting from the late 1500s by an italian artist, Veronese, entitled "The Feast in the House of Levi". This painting was commissioned to replace one lost for the dining hall of a basilica in Venice. It was the topic of much debate and even brought an inquisition from the Catholic Church on the artist. They had wanted a Last Supper style of painting and asked him why the painting included "buffoons, drunks, dwarfs and other vulgarities" - their words. The artist explained that he felt these individuals would have been outside the room that our Lord was enjoying His meal in and He felt he appropriately represented the Supper. He was instructed to correct the excrutiatingly large painting, but instead he renamed it from "A Last Supper" to "The Feast in the House of Levi" and that satisfied the inquiry. Interestingly the church's concern was that, at the time, other countries, specifically Germany used images to "vilify" the catholic church and teach false doctrine. The artist admitted that he didn't know the things pointed out and short of inserting interesting figures into his painting he had no real intent. There was no big message, he stated that he painted to the best of his intelligence and from what his masters had taught him.
All of that to say that I think the artist's take on it is important. We live in a world where we think to be a christian is to be perfect. Both Jesus followers and non-believers alike, assume that we have it all together. A reason we are so quickly judged by society when we err. The belief is that we deserve to be at the table, but the reality is that Jesus did come to save the sinners, the broken. "Those who are well have no need for a physician".
Much like the image painted, Isn't it a simple reality that Jesus loved ALL people, and He especially loved spending time with the broken, hurting and straying folk. Is it so hard to grasp because we forget how to do this? We don't know how to truly love all folk, what that feels like or even how to make it possible. Why do we become so enraged when our view of Christ is challenged? His ministry was for the lost, the "buffoons, the drunks", etc.. and no matter how much I change, how much I strive to be more like Christ, how beautiful He makes me I will count myself a "buffoon". We are all just clay anyway, so far from perfection yet. I am nowhere near worth saving, but Christ has invited me to the table. And because I am grateful I should be inviting those who may also feel unworthy to the table as well. I picture that, just as our dinner guest experienced last night, He sits happily amongst my crazy people; my loud children, my boisterous husband, my emotional self, the dogs wreaking havoc under foot, our two guinea pigs squawking in the back room all the while He breaks bread quietly and smiles, laughs even. He turns my craziness, our craziness, into a masterpiece. I don't worry about any inquisition man may have for me, I *know* I'm broken, we all are, but I know that Christ refines me and I know that in all it's confusing splendor, He desires that my life bring Him glory and He can help me do that. He can turn something I think or others think, so unworthy into something profound, something appearing as one thing, into another and something worthy of inquisition into something sustaining. He may let me paint my own picture, but He guides my hand with each stroke and if that has me spending time with the hurting, the broken, the troubled than that is where I consider myself lucky because in it, there is only more opportunity to learn and more opportunity to see Christ and in truth, that promise has me pretty darn excited.
Prayerful that my daily picture honors my walk with Christ, that it reflects how He sustains me .... that it brings forth conversation to skeptics and keeps me seeing those who don't know Him yet. ~ B"