Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Hate Museums

Don't get me wrong; I love the arts and have a special affinity for artists who can take a large, blank canvas and create something beautiful - or at least interesting.  I enjoy visiting our local art museum and seeing paintings that have been around for hundreds of years and more recent sculptures. I could spend all day going from floor to floor and exhibit to exhibit.  But, I stand by my statement: I hate museums.

I have a favorite painting at the Greenville County Art Museum, and on my last visit I enjoyed it a little too much.  Well, the security guard thought I got too close to it anyway.  The painting is Girl With Lantern which was painted by Helen Turner in 1904.  The color choices and painting techniques are facinating to me.  The way she creates the lights and shadows just pulls me into the picture.  I was standing with my nose a few inches from the painting when the guard decided I should have an escort for the rest of my visit.

I wondered why Helen Turner painted that girl in that pose with those colors and what she was thinking as she painted.  I wondered if she thought that someday her painting would be secured away from being touched and handled only to be viewed from a safe distance.
Those thoughts quickly turned to the rest of my world.  The Bible tells us that we are God's creation, His handiwork, His masterpiece.  I don't think He created us to be hidden behind a mask of perfection, or to be set on a pedestal and admired for our goodness.  He made us real: humanly real.

Jesus came and demonstrated for us, as His followers, how to express the nature and character of God.  John wrote of Jesus, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life."  (1 John 1:1)  When Thomas the Apostle had a moment of weakness and unbelief, Jesus urged him, "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."  (Luke 24:39)

The good news is that Jesus knows when He has been touched!  Remember the woman who touched the hem of his robe because she needed to be healed?  When she finally pushed everyone else aside and made it to Jesus, He said, "Who touched me?"

I hear you saying, "But Pastor Tony, we can't touch Jesus. What are you talking about?"

Oh yes, we can.

Hebrews 4:15 (KJV) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  In other words, Jesus really feels our pain.

Maybe this is common knowledge to you, but let me ask you this:  Are you touchable?  Do you let someone in need get close enough to touch you?  When someone touches you, do you recognize it?  Are they aware that you know they exist?
People who truly follow Jesus can't answer NO to those questions.  I can't think that I'm so special that I belong in a museum to be viewed from a distance and guarded from the needy touch of others.

Did I mention I hate museums?
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