Art: In defining art, Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The temperament to which Art appeals … is the temperament of receptivity. That is all … The spectator is to be receptive. He is to be the violin on which the master is to play. And the more completely he can suppress his own silly views, his own foolish prejudices, his own absurd ideas of what Art should be, or should not be, the more likely he is to understand and appreciate the work of art in question.”  What if we defined life as Wilde defined art? That is, what if we saw our everyday struggles or frustrations not as impediments in our schedules, but as strokes in a painting? What if we gave up our expectations and just received?
Paul: In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says that we are God’s “handiwork” or “workmanship” or “masterpiece”—created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  He calls us a work of art with a purpose. Here, in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul shows us that his life was chiseled and painted with “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger.” Yet the great work of art that came from his sufferings was the vibrant life of the church: “We put no obstacles in anyone’s way so that no fault may be found with our ministry … We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”
Whatever: Paul approached his life as a work of art crafted by the Great Artist. In Wilde’s terms, Paul had a temperament of receptivity—“Whatever, Lord. Whatever you want to do with me, do it. I give up my silly views, my foolish prejudices, my absurd ideas of what my life should or should not be, so that I may know you and draw others into knowing you, too.”
Prayer: Lord, Creating art can be messy and uncertain and inefficient. Yet that is what you are doing with us. You are painting and chiseling all of us—together—to be your church, your people, your bride. During this Lenten season, open our eyes to see your handiwork as you see it. May we have hearts with temperaments of receptivity. Amen.
M’Cheyne Weekend Reading:
 See Maria Popova. “Oscar Wilde on Art.” Brain Pickings. August 27, 2013. |  Ephesians 2:10 NIV