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Look again. What do you see?

This month we welcome several new board members to the Athentikos Board. We are excited that Sherri Andreas has committed to step into this leadership role. Sherri began her journey with Athentikos in 2015 when she joined the I Am Art trip to Casa Bernabe in Guatemala.  She often says that her heart came to Guatemala and never left. She returns to Casa Bernabe every year, leading mixed media workshops for the students and providing a refreshing time of tea, treats, training, and creative art for the housemoms.  Sherri’s creative teaching, her heart for God, and her experience in education have added to the curriculum development for the I Am Art camps.  Her own personal experience of pain transformed into purpose by our loving God has made her passionate about sharing the ministry of Athentikos with the world.  Sherri lives with her husband Tim, her 15 rescued cats, and a peacock named Marilyn on their One-Acre Woods in the Central Valley of California. She wrote the following devotion for her church and shared it with us.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

My love of art began my second year of college. Art Appreciation 101. Our professor led the class through our art building which featured many masterpieces of former students and local artists. We viewed portraits, sculptures,and landscapes, but then he stopped in front of a modern art painting, a huge canvas filled with splotches and splatters and stripes of all colors, and he asked us, “What do you see?” 

We sophomores began answering in true sophomoric fashion. 

“I don’t like it.”

“Wow, so messy-looking.”

“It’s so weird, but kind of a good weird.”

“Definitely not my kind of art!”

“I like it!”

“I think it looks really bad.”

“If it had a better design, maybe, but this? Nope.”

 

Our professor listened, and then replied. “I didn’t ask if you liked it or not. I asked, ‘What do you see?’ Stop judging and start looking. Now, look again. what do you see?”

I looked back at the painting. Freed from the impulse to immediately decide if I liked it or not, I studied the painting more closely. Once I stopped judging and started looking, I could truly see the colors, shapes, patterns, and textures the artist had used to create this unique work of art – delicate lines of green, a bold slash of red, a drip of aqua accentuated by a splash of gold.  I found beauty within the painting, not because it had changed, but because I was shown a new way of seeing.  That was the moment I fell in love with art.  I was given a new way to look at the world, a way to find beauty in everything.  

Most of us could easily find the beauty in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings or Van Gogh’s Starry Night. But Picasso’s Woman with Artichoke, her face pointing three different directions at once? Or Jackson Pollock’s splattered canvas of No. 5, 1948?  Even to my art-loving heart, that Pollock painting appears to have been created by paint-flinging preschoolers, more of a mess than a masterpiece. And yet, that “mess” was purchased in 2005 by an undisclosed buyer for $140 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting at that time. That “mess” is definitely a valuable masterpiece to someone.

How often do we see people as we go through our day and forget that they are each a valuable masterpiece? Who do we avoid, dislike, shut out, ignore?  We hear our thoughts echoing,

 “I don’t like her.”

“Wow, so messy-looking.”

“They look really bad.”

“Definitely not my kind of person!”

“If they were better, maybe, but this? Nope.”

Paul reminds us three times in the first three verses of this chapter that, without God, we are just like everybody else.  Yet, we look at our faith and we often feel that we are better than others – less sinful, more ethical, morally superior.  We forget that our justification is a gift of God… and then we feel justified in looking down on others.  Paul also tells us over and over that we are saved by grace, which, by its very definition, is undeserved love. UN-DE-SERVED. If we’re thinkin’ that we deserve it, then what we’re thinkin’ of ain’t grace.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We need to be shown a new way of seeing.

Each person is a unique creation – valued and treasured, artwork of the great I AM.  The Greek word ποιημα (poiema) in this verse is often translated “workmanship” or “handiwork” but it is the root of the English word “poetry”.  The Voice expresses this idea beautifully, saying that we are “heaven’s poetry etched on lives…”  Think about that for a moment.  Each person you see as you move through your day is heaven’s poetry, a masterpiece created by a loving Father, each one so valuable to Him that He paid the highest price ever, the suffering of His Son, the life of His precious Child. He paid the ultimate price for you. For me. For that one. For her? Yep.  For him? Mm-hmm, for him too.

It is said that the Apostle John, as he grew old on the island of Patmos, spoke one sentence over and over, “Love, my little children, love.” Every sermon, every speech – “Love, my little children, love.”  The story continues that one day he was asked when he would start preaching a different message. His reply, “When you have mastered this one.” True story or legend? No one seems to know for sure, but all it takes is a quick glance through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John and you will see those words repeated on almost every page.  “Love, my little children, love.”

Stop judging and start looking. In God’s kingdom, we don’t get to decide if we like one of his masterpieces or not.  We are not called to condemn, we are commanded to love. There are no excuses. God fills us with His love so we can love others with as great a love as He has for us. Look at others with the love that He has for His living artwork. Strive to see what He sees. Can you see the good, the unique, the beauty?  Can you get a glimpse of the good works God has planned for them to do if they are created anew through the good news of Christ Jesus?  He has great plans and a great love for each one of us. For you. For me. For that person over there. For her? Yep. For him?  Mm-hmm, him too.  

Who are you not seeing?

Who are you not loving? 

Take a few moments to dwell with our loving God in prayer:

Mighty God

I start with “Amen”

Knowing you are sovereign

I surrender to Your will

Creator God 

fill me with the unshakeable assurance

of Your unconditional love

for me

Your valued masterpiece

heaven’s poetry etched on my life.

Holy Spirit 

show me a new way of seeing

fill me with your love so completely 

that I feel the conviction to love others better

in every moment

in each person I meet

my eyes seeing the beauty You see

my heart breaking for what breaks Yours

Wonderful Counselor

I humbly ask You 

reshape my soul to care for this hurting world. 

We ask all these things in the name of our Savior Jesus

who took on all our sin and died

for you

for me

for that person over there

for her?

yep

for him? 

mm-hmm, him too

Who will you see with God’s eyes today?

Who can you love with God’s love today?

As a masterpiece?

As an equal?

Love, my little children, love.  

Stop judging and start looking.

God has shown us a new way of seeing. 

When you take the time to truly look at each person,

the light of God’s saving love

can reveal the poetry He has etched within.

Now, look again. 

What do you see? 

~ Sherri Andreas (Grafted & Growing Devotion)

Athentikos is not currently offering mission trips to Guatemala. However, we hope to resume in 2022. For now, read about these experiences here.

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