Daily thoughts on aesthetics and theology, and the entire world in between.

    subscribe to
  • RSS

Cubist grace; or what grace looks like in process

On Friday we drove two cars to Seattle to leave one of them for our son Josh who is staying there for the summer.

"I should get him a lug wrench just in case he has a flat," I said before we left.

300 miles later, right before the 520 bridge into Seattle, kaboom, I get a flat. Cars backed up to kingdom come.

"Go on ahead," I cell-phoned to Valerie in the other car, "I'll take care of this..."

Two hours, 1 kind policeman, 400 bucks and 4 new tires later, we're eating at the Ram restaurant near the UW campus (students these days much be rich). "How would you like your meat done?"

"Medium rare," I said.

Big mistake.

On Saturday, between barfs, I was flat on my back in a friend's house, having displaced them out of their master bedroom (we protested but it was no use) -- while Valerie and Joshua spent the day out. Some weekend with our son. They brought back Chinese food. I wasn't able to eat any of it.

Today (Sunday) we went to Mars Hill Church and saw Mark Driscoll preach on a big video screen. The live Mark was at the Crystal Cathedral. The Crystal Cathedral in California.

The church is massive, and growing. It's one of the happening places in American evangelicalism. Josh is really into it. It's the reason he's staying in Seattle.

I've never been in a sanctuary all in black, with black chairs, atmospheric lights, really loud electric music. And grungy graphics. In fact, there's an overall grungy-ness to it.

But deep inside I sensed I was seeing the Message framed appropriately for this demographic.

I felt old.

Out in the lobby, Bob, one of the many church members, said, "You know, we're the third fastest growing church in the country, and the fastest growing for the 20-45 demographic..."


Driscoll mentioned Noah in his sermon -- who all his life was derided for building his boat. Nobody joined up with him. He went in with 8. He got out with 8. His was not a fast-growing demographic. But he was one BIG life-line in the overall Story.

So there are two kinds of lifelines. The Driscoll kind. The Noah kind. I need to remember that.

On the drive back I read an article by Marvin Olasky on art. The medieval painters painted conceptions rather than perceptions. I need to remember that.

Cubist painters, however, paint scenes juxtaposed together, so you get a face in profile and frontal view at the same time.

This weekend was all in pieces. Cubist pieces.

But maybe that's what grace looks like in process.


1 Peter 3.20-23 God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand - with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; ... (9) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment ...


Daniel Leslie Peterson June 15, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

In the book of Acts, Luke repeatedly and deliberately notes the Church’s numerical growth:

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. Acts 4:4

Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. Acts 5:14

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing … Acts 6:1

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. Acts 9:31

The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 11:21

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:24

But the word of God continued to increase and spread. Acts 12:24

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. Acts 13:48-49

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. Acts 16:5

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. Acts 19:20

(Quotations are from the New International Version [NIV]. The title quote and list
are from The New Jerusalem Bible [Doubleday, 1985] Acts 2:41 note cc, p 1803.)

David Wang June 15, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

Thanks Dan! I'm thrilled to read these passages. And I'm sure Noah is thrilled too wherever he is right now. Dave

Daniel Leslie Peterson June 15, 2009 at 4:34 PM  

I and my small church have a general bias against mega churches and numerical growth in our own fellowship. Recently seeing this accumulation of Luke's accounting of the early church is causing me to question that bias.

Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 12:24 PM  

To me a 'number' as it relates to individual churches and size should be viewed with caution and perhaps a serious warning similar to the way Paul warns Timothy about the "love" of money.

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

I think for many churches, even if it didn't start with an eye on numbers, it can so often drift into a unhealthy focus on numbers.

Numbers are not the problem it is the love of numbers.

Post a Comment