4 June 2002

"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ"-1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul would have his Corinthian brethren follow him as he followed Christ. To be a follower in this passage means to imitate or to act and behave like Jesus. In a nutshell, that is genuine Christianity. Some might say, "I know that I can not be just like Jesus. Why try to be something or do something that I know is beyond my ability?" I have a lot of fond memories of grade school. We had some wonderful teachers in our little school at Donaldson, Arkansas. Our fourth grade teach, Mrs. Herrington, would let us sit on her lap and talk to her. In that simple day, we had many outings. One that sticks in my memory most was a trip to Gulfa Gorge, in Hot Springs. This was a quiet little picnic spot at the foot of the Ouachita Mountains, with a stream running between the campground and the mountain, with the neatest hiking trail up the mountain. We all crossed the stream, one by one, and headed up the hiking trail. After several hikes up the trial, our initial excitement had worn down, as well as our energy level. It was then that we noticed a solitary painter perched in a corner of the campground with canvas on easel facing the mountain and stream. Of course, we had to check it out. What was he doing with that thing in front of him? Several of us stood behind him and watched his gentle strokes upon the canvas as he portrayed, to the best of his ability, the beautiful scene before us. I began to compare his work with the Master's work. One glance at the canvas, one glance at God's creation. Over and over I compared the two. After several comparisons I noticed he had purposely omitted an ugly telephone pole, wire and an old black pipe running across the stream. I can't remember if the question came from my mouth, the mouth of another classmate, or if it just stuck in my mind, "Why did you leave those things out." Nor do I remember if the answer came from the painter or from something already realized from the art. He would capture the beauty and leave off the scar that man had made upon God's portrait. It suddenly occurred to me that I had not noticed the pole, the wire or the black pipe until I saw his imitation of God's majestic beauty! No, in this life we can not become just like Jesus. Though, the artist may try, the exact beauty of God's creation can never be captured on canvas, by a Nikon, or a camcorder. Yet, we can be like the painter. We can, stroke by stroke, to the best of our ability, by the light we have been given, try to paint as beautiful a picture as possible. We can paint over, blend colors and work on our copy daily. As the painter loves to paint, they get better at it. So, the Christian must love their Lord and practice to imitate Him. Prayer, reading the scriptures and church attendance keep our eyes upon the beauty we would imitate. We may also look at other canvases daily and learn. We can look at other imitators and see God's beauty in them. This is a slice of humility: to focus on the good in others, rather than their faults. It is like the painter, who did not paint the pole and the pipe, but focused on the beauty of God's workmanship. The first attempt on the canvas will definitely be lacking. Yet, we have the Spirit to become more like him, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord"-2 Corinthains 3:18.