Could a list ever be a work of art? If you think I am about to advance the theory that a list could be a work of art, you might think Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin are about to make special guest appearances on this blog.
Even if the aforesaid had produced lists for exhibition, some of our readers would dispute their value as art. However, a shopping list written and illustrated by Michelangelo, is a slightly different proposition. I am sure that if you were the owner of a list put together by the great artist, you would be unhappy to part with your artefact for anything less than a high art price!
Even if a list cannot be rightly described as art, it has to be said that sometimes revelation comes in what looks suspiciously like a list. And, if used wisely, can function as a kind of checklist for how our growth in Christ is progressing.
One such list appears in Romans 12:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.
It’s God’s word alright. But it’s not the sort of passage that will be read at a wedding or a funeral. It’s not up there with a Romans 8 or a 1 Corinthians 13 or Psalm 23. But if we are brave enough to bring ourselves under its spotlight, it can help reveal the state of our souls.
So how about working through the list?
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Are you living righteously? Where are you compromising with sin? In the last six months has your love for what is good grown or diminished? Do you have a holy hatred of sin? What do you need to stop doing or start doing to progress in righteous living?
Be devoted to one another in love.
How’s the level of your devotion to other believers? Are you in fellowship? Has your commitment to fellowship increased, decreased or remained level over the past six months? How could you raise your fellowship level?
Honour one another above yourselves.
How do you treat others? Are you treating others with respect? In the last six months what has changed in the way you treat other people? Have people become a nuisance to you? List some of the good characteristics in the people you know and use them as a basis for increasing your respect level.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.
On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your current level of zeal for Christ? What does your zeal look like in terms of serving Christ? How about asking God for some fresh zeal?
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
What’s your joy level like? Your hope level? How well are you handling difficulty? How’s your prayer life? Find someone you trust to pray through your findings on this topic.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.
When is the last time you shared with someone in need? When is the last time you opened your life to someone? What’s stopping you reaching out to others in hospitality? Who could invite / arrange to meet for coffee?
You might find some of these questions uncomfortable. However, if you are prepared to be honest with yourself and with God, your answers could open up some new doors and help you to move on in your journey of faith.
Michelangelo’s shopping list was hardly his greatest work of art, but it did keep him from going hungry as he pursued his greater calling.
This is not the most artistically satisfying blog post I have ever written, but hopefully it will yield some spiritual food for you as pursue your calling.