Print Code: JTBA11 | Print Sizes: S, M | Greeting Cards | Original Artwork: SOLD, Pen on Paper, 21cm x 31cm (8.5″ x 12″)
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. These free birds collectively represent the Bride of Christ, the body of Christian believers. They are fleeing out of empty dead Religion into their Relationship with Jesus, the Bridegroom.
The idea for this drawing came to me a couple different times when I was deep in prayer. It is similar to my drawing, “Freedom From A Religious Spirit” (John the Baptist Artworks Series).
Jesus earnestly longs for intimacy with us. It is for this very reason that he laid down his life: So that we could enjoy a loving, personal relationship with him forever. (Praise the Lord!!!) “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). (See “Message“).
What great love Jesus has for us! As the Bridegroom, he has laid down his life for his Bride, those who believe in him.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:25-27, 31-32)
How deeply does his love touch our hearts, and “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Intimacy with Jesus is what we live for; it’s what we are created for. Nothing in heaven or on earth or in all Creation compares with Jesus. He is wonderful and beautiful beyond measure, “…he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend” (Song of Songs 5:16).
There are many things that can distract us or tear us away from this intimacy with God. There are also many things that seek to displace Jesus from the throne of our hearts. A religious spirit is one of the most deceptive and sinister of these things. This is because on the outside it looks righteous and acceptable, but in reality it is a complete counterfeit to intimacy with God! In the Scriptures, Jesus consistently spoke against this spirit on his many confrontations with the Pharisees.
We would be wise to take Jesus’ words to heart and to pray that God would give us true spiritual discernment of any places where we have compromised intimacy with him for something else.
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)
Much like the message of “It’s Time to Fly, Church” (John the Baptist Artworks Series), God has created us to soar up into his presence without limits! And like the message of “Freedom From A Religious Spirit” (John the Baptist Artworks Series), there are many things in Christendom today that seek to cage us and clip our wings so that we cannot soar up to God very high.
Jesus says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). The Scriptures also say, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Although in context these Scriptures refer to freedom from sin and the Law respectively, the concept of Jesus freeing us from everything that would hold us away from him is still within the spirit of these verses (Hebrews 12:1).
In my drawing, the birds are those who believe in Jesus. Collectively, they make up the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32). Their sights are set on Jesus, and they are freely flying up to him–away from all the religious cages that they once allowed to bind them back from him. They are also fleeing from all the things that clipped their wings, for they desire intimacy with Jesus more than peace with men and a good name with them (John 12:42-43, John 5:37-44, Matthew 10:32-39, Luke 16:15, Luke 6:22-23, 26, Galatians 1:10). Jesus and his Bride are filled with passion for each other, and they enjoy the fullness of intimacy without a single thing hindering them. What joy and delight they share in that place!
The church buildings are a conventional way I have chosen to illustrate and symbolize religious spirits and all counterfeit religion that stands in opposition to true, spiritual intimacy with God. (In reality, it makes no difference where we meet for fellowship, whether it be in a cathedral or in a house. What truly matters is the spirit we meet in (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)