Print Sizes: S, M, L, Oversize | Original Artwork: SOLD, 45 cm x 31 cm (18″ x 12″), Acrylic Paint and Gel Medium on Canvas
True Christianity is having a loving, personal Relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross. False Christianity is practicing a Religion about Jesus while lacking a Relationship with Jesus. It often emphasizes an outward adherence to rules, obedience to rituals and/or mental assent to a body of doctrines instead of having a living faith in the actual Person of Jesus Christ. We believers are meant to be the light of the world, but if we compromise or submit to a religious spirit, our light in Christ is obscured under a bowl of Religion. Let us therefore forsake all empty, dead Religion so that the light from our Relationship with Christ may shine abroad.
“You [believers in Christ] are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
This image came to me when I was in worship. Although this painting alludes to Matthew 5:14-16, it is not a direct illustration of that Scriptural passage; it speaks a slightly different message. However, in order to understand the message of my painting one must first understand what Jesus says about the city on a hill.
God intends us believers to be a light and a witness of Christ to the dark and sinful world around us. He desires that the people of this world would be attracted to the light of Christ in us, be convicted of their dark, sinful ways and thus turn and become “sons of the light” (John 12:36). Therefore, because this is God’s purpose for his Church and for the world, it would be unthinkable for him to turn around and conceal the light of Christ within his people under a “bowl”.
In the Old Testament, whenever Moses met with God face to face in the Tent of Meeting, his face would shine radiantly (Exodus 34:29-35). This same principle is carried into the New Testament where in 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says:
“And we [believers], who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his [Christ’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
As we spend intimate, personal time with our Lord, as he matures us into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29), the light of Christ shines out of us with ever-increasing glory. The Scripture tells us quite plainly that this radiant glory comes directly from the Lord himself, who is the Spirit. The light of Christ does not come through observance of Religion–faithfully attending a church or keeping church traditions, etc.; on the contrary, it comes directly through our raw, pure, intimate Relationship with the Living God.
One thing I want to reiterate and make VERY clear from the Matthew 5:14-16 passage is that it is unthinkable for God to want to conceal the light of Christ’s glory within us. He wants us to shine brightly without hindrance for him!
In opposition to God’s desires is evil human nature, which desires power and control. The light of Christ exposes the darkness of sinful human nature and thus inherently threatens it because it distinguishes evil from righteousness and thus points toward impending judgment (Confer John 16:7-11).
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21)
Over the centuries, evil human nature, threatened by the true light and sometimes helped along by the influences of the Evil One, has attempted to assert power and control over God’s true Church–those who are born again believers, not a particular religious denomination. Under the guise of righteousness, church traditions, hierarchies, rituals, rules, etc. have been established by men and have bound and ensnared some believers under a “religious spirit”. And as we believers freely, yet very mistakenly, choose to submit to and embrace these manmade Religious embellishments, they begin to conceal the true light of Christ in us that comes only through Relationship.
Religiosity is the counterfeit of Relationship. One is light, the other is darkness. One is of God, the other is manmade.
How does God feel about the things that conceal the light of Christ to the world?
How does God feel about the things that come in between him and his beloved children?
What do you think God will do about it?
What do you think you should do about it?
In my painting I have illustrated Jesus, the Bridegroom of his Church (Revelation 21:9-11), quite forcefully removing a dark bowl in the shape of a church building, off of his true Church, the radiant city on a hill which is founded on Christ the Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22). (***The black church does NOT represent “organized church”; instead, it represents all of the Religious hindrances to Relationship. God does not care about where we meet; he cares about the spirit in which we meet.***)
May the bowl of empty, dead Religiosity be removed from us so that intimate Relationship with God may shine through us unhindered!
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us
“…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” (Hebrews 12:1)
“…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)