Matisse, Picasso, and Christ
A month ago I was in San Francisco for a work conference. I took my wife along since work was paying and it was good opportunity to get away and introduce her to many of my friends from my time living there.
We stayed in a hotel near Union Square. One evening we were walking around and ended up wandering into a number of art galleries. In one, the first floor held the largest gallery collection of Rembrandt drawings in the US. I really enjoyed these. We eventually made our way upstairs where they had a number of Matisse and Picassos. I have never been much of a fan of either of these artists for the simple reason that the things they painted were weird looking. Cubed looking people? Odd. I’m sorry, that’s just the way I feel.
While we were upstairs, the manager came up and started talking to us about Matisse and Picasso. He said that he never liked their stuff either. He said the paintings all looked weird and when he first started working in the store he thought, I never want to own one of these. He felt this way until one day, many years later, something changed. He said he realized that before these two, no one had ever painted like that. This was new. These two broke out of the box and did something new and different. Before, people tried to paint scenes as realistically as possible. That was the way art had always been done. But then these two guys come along and go in a completely different direction. And for a long time people didn’t get it, they just couldn’t see this as art, because it looked nothing like what had always been done.
But it was art. Matisse and Picasso just saw the scene differently than everyone else.
Dang. I had never thought about it like that before. And in that moment I saw Christ in these artists.
Each of us has all of God inside of us. That may seem like an odd statement since most Christians are accustomed to saying the Holy Spirit resides in us, but realize that God cannot be separated, so if the Holy Spirit is in us then so is God because the Spirit is God. So we have the fullness of Christ in us, yet, as Paul states in Ephesians, that fullness can only be completely expressed by His body, the church:
And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Eph 1:22-23).
Or, put another way: each member of the body has been divinely created to express a specific portion of Christ and together we represent the vastness of him.
In this way we each can see and express Christ in a unique way, just as artists can see and paint the same scene very differently. The following picture from TwentyTwoWords is a perfect example of this. It is an artist’s imagining of what Picasso and Dali would have painted given the same scene:
Neither is wrong even though the paintings look nothing alike. In each, the artist is able to bring out something different and unique about the subject and the two paintings together give us a fuller picture of the original scene.
Now imagine a body of believers where each member is expressing Christ (painting the same scene) in the distinct way they see it and you will understand the beauty and vastness of Christ that can be found when every member functions and expresses the uniqueness of Christ that is within them.
Then expand this further to see that every person who has believed into Christ has a distinct portion of Christ that they express and we can only know Christ more fully as we seek Christ in other people.