Meditations by John Dean

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Progression of Art

(Psalms 19:1) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.

I am always amazed when I think of the Glory of God and what the scripture calls His handiwork. The expanse of God’s handiwork and especially all that He has prepared for those who love Him is incomprehensible. Even though my imagination knows no bounds, I must say that I am not even close to imagining God’s creativity. Perhaps that is why the Bible says that we only “know in part.”

Even when I read Revelation and see how the New Jerusalem is described as it comes down with all its beauty and glory I can only sit in silence. Revelation describes in detail the gates of the city and its foundations, along with the water cascading down from beneath the throne room of the Lamb. It even talks about the tree of life on either side of the river that bears twelve manner of fruit each month and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

When I read these scriptures my mind cannot grasp all the beauty and shapes and colors that originated in the heart of God. I am even more amazed when I think that all this handiwork was created for His crowning creation (man) to enjoy.

Even when the tabernacle of Moses was built in the Old Testament, heaven was used as a blueprint. All of the hooks, length and width have enumerable meanings and were only types of a greater glory.

Since man was created in the image of God he too became a creator of many beautiful things such as sculpture and art. He seemed to have started his creative journey painting the history of his time on rocks and caves that future generations enjoy seeing even to this day.

Man then moved from painting on rocks and caves to painting on canvas or on the ceilings and walls of grand homes and even the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican. Man’s purpose for such creativity and painting was the same as God’s purpose…so generations could enjoy the beauty of it.

However, all of that reasoning changed when man progressed from painting on caves, canvas, walls and ceilings to painting on himself (tattooing). No longer is his painting and creativity for future generations to enjoy but rather for his own personal pleasure.

Over the years I have seen some of the great masterpieces of art in Paris, Rome, Saltsburg and other parts of the world. As a result, I have enjoyed (in my amateurish way) attempting to study the minds and thinking behind such masterpieces. In each case I seem to see the unselfish quality of sharing one’s creative beauty of the mind with the whole world.

That does not seem to be the case with body painting (tattooing). Body painting seems to only be for the personal pleasure of the individual because in most cases it is covered up with clothes. Unlike other types of painting…when those who paint their bodies die—their work is buried with them.

I remember when I visited a great art museum in Paris, how people silently looked at the great masterpieces and quietly moved on. That is how I feel when I see some of God’s handiwork.

However, that is not the way it is with body painting (tattooing) where everyone seems to have a strong opinion. These opinions range from an absolute love of body painting and the justification for it…to questioning the whole morality of it. Some see it as their personal expression while others see is as defiling the “temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 6:19 A). “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…?”

Some even say their body is their own and they can do with it whatever they want while others see it as idolatry because it is "body modification" (1Corithians 6:19 B) … “and ye are not your own.”

I remember when I was a very young teenage boy sitting in the school auditorium with a few other boys who were bored with the program. Someone came up with the idea that we should all tattoo ourselves. The boy making the suggestion just happened to have all the necessary things to get this tattooing job done. He had a bottle of ink, a match stick and two pins tied together with a piece of thread. The idea was to get the end of the match wet with ink and then draw the desired tattoo on our arm. We would then take the two pins that were tied together and poke them through the skin where the wet ink was and presto…we had a tattoo.

I have done a lot of dumb things in my life however the moment I got saved I realized that “my body was no longer mine but it had been bought with a price,” Even today I would love the opportunity of going back to that auditorium and making a better choice. I have been embarrassed about my tattoo decision for the last sixty-five years.

Does the painting history on cave walls or painting on canvas and body painting have a relationship to God’s intent regarding His handiwork as stated in our text?   What is your opinion?

I think You that when You made man in Your image that You also gave him that wonderful creative ability to express himself. I never cease to be amazed at all the beauty and colors that You have surrounded me with. Help me to express myself in a way that will inspire others and bring glory to You.

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