Being a Canvas
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! – 2 Corinthians 5:17
At sunrise the trees outside my window turn bright orange. They are a canvas for the light of our star as it crests the horizon. As the sun lifts into the heavens, the trees continue to be transformed until they are golden. I can see light shoot up the tiniest of their branches, and can even see their buds seem to rise in thankful celebration.
This is how it looks to be a new creation. We are transformed into something beyond ourselves, thrown into glowing radiance as canvases for the light of Christ. We are shrouded in glory, blessed.
In the new creation we lose ourselves in being canvases. I think of my friend, Mary, who, in the hospital and in a lot of pain, quietly thanked the nurses and complimented them on their work. I think of my friend, Thomas, who thought his campus ministry was a huge success when he had one meaningful conversation with one student with a lot of questions. I think of the spiritual director who offered group spiritual direction to the folks staying at the Mission – for free and without fanfare. And I think of the thousands of people in Europe offering homes, supplies, money, transportation, and encouragement to the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine. It is all done quietly – maybe too quietly.
In this current time we mix up personal glory and the glory of being the canvas for Christ’s light. First we downplay our efforts to serve if we aren’t reaching a lot of people and bringing in a ton of money. Then, because we are afraid of being taken for braggarts, we don’t speak enough about what we have done that has transformed individuals and communities.
Being a canvas for Christ’s light does mean that we glow. But the light may be meant for one other person outside ourselves, and it may only last a few minutes. How, then, do we teach others how to be part of the new creation? We have to talk about what we do, how we serve, how we are canvases upon which Christ writes Christ’s love. The light of Christ encourages and empowers. It usually does not bring in money or fame, but quietly meets the needs of the world using all the creative potential of the person who is serving as its canvas. We need to recognize and share how we are doing that. We need to recognize it in other people and name it.
How did you become the canvas for Christ’s light and Christ’s love this past week? Reach past your discomfort to speak honestly about what happened. And – a much easier task – think who amongst your acquaintances you admire for their participation in the new creation. Share a story about their service. This will encourage all of us. There is a lot of this being a canvas for the love of Christ going on right now. It is happening all around us. We need to share that good news.