You have probably heard by now the Scripture that speaks over us, we are God's masterpiece, a treasured work of art. This weekend I read, in my new favorite book, "Love Does" by Bob Goff, a whole other level of this analogy, and it was just too amazing not to share. Here is my (teensy bit paraphrased) summary.
Bob fell in love with a painting in a gallery he walked by frequently. It really spoke to him about God and his own picture of his life with his family, he really loved it, but it was 4 times the value of any of his last 4 vehicles. So he saved up for a whole year to purchase this beloved painting. As he finally made his purchase, the curator handed him two paintings, and they looked identical!
"What do I need two paintings for?"
"Well, ze one on the left is ze real one. It's museum qualeetay. It's very expensive, almost priceless. You don't want to hang ze original where it might get damaged, so you put ze original in a vault. Zis other one, however is ze fake one and iz ze one you put up on the wall for everyone to see."
Well, which of the two paintings do you think he put up on the wall. Bob understood why the guy at the gallery wanted him to hang the fake one and hide the real one, damage to the real one would be a huge loss, it was as Bob put it, 'not long for this earth, rare, one of a kind, irreplaceable.' But that's exactly why he wanted the original on his wall.
So he hung it up, perfectly framed by two windows where he the sun comes up over the waters in colours to beautiful to be real. Fitting. Then one morning as he sat in his favorite spot that overlooked the two windows and the original painting he looked up and his jaw dropped. The night before there was some typical family chaos going on, no one recalls doing the damage, but the painting in fact took a hit. That was awhile ago now, and every morning he still does his usual routine, sits in his favorite chair, and looks at his favorite piece of art, still taken by its beauty. He doesn't even notice that it's damaged anymore, he's not mad or disappointed about it. The reason is simple: it reminds him fondly of his kids. He sees his kids engaged in life, he sees all the mischief, the whimsy, and the spontaneous combustion that is their hallmark. Truth be known, he likes the original painting even more now.
There are times in life when we've gotten into mischief, taken chances, taken some big risks. In the process, sometimes we've let people down or it didn't go well. We've taken some damage. But after that painting got hit, Bob realized, God doesn't think any less of us when things don't go right. Actually, it's more likely He plans on it. What God doesn't plan on is us putting a fake version of ourselves out there to take the hit. God is the master artist and made an original version of us, a priceless one that cost everything to create. A version that can't and won't be created again.
God asks us to hang that version of ourselves for everyone to see. Despite our inherent beauty, each of us is tempted to hide the original so we won't get damaged. It's obvious to see why. But the fake version of us is not worthless, it's just worth less. Because it's a copy, a version we don't care about as much, it's like a stunt double standing in for us, yet we're telling the world this is the best we've got, the best we'll risk.
But our value, as the masterpiece, is not because of the beauty of canvas, we have infinite value because of who created us, God, the master artist. The best we can muster on our own is a fake. God asks us to leave the cheap imitations in the closet. That doesn't mean he's saying that when you hang the real one out there - the priceless one - that things will go great. It's pretty clear from watching Jesus' followers that when you risk the real you, you'll probably take a hit. God did when He hung Jesus out there. But the thing is, when we take hits, and we will, God isn't going to think less of us. He's still going to go to His favorite spot to look upon His original masterpiece, and He loves us, damage and all.