Old Sin, New Grace: The Art of Redemption
In the creative process, sometimes things come to you as if they were handed down to you. As if the words or ideas were somewhere floating around with the stars and one day it decided to plummet to earth, right to your mind. This is one of those things. Unfortunately for creativity and inspiration, they don’t always speak the same language, so it often comes out as a broken language, like an American tourist in France shouting English in broken sentences, thinking that if he says it louder and slower then the person who knows no English will finally capture it’s essence. This sort of feels like that, so hang tight. It all begins with a thought…
Satan is as old as sin, but God is as new as grace.
Since the beginning we have been constantly lied to about sin. If there is one element of the Creation story that lacks creativity it is the lie involved with sin.
When we think back to ourselves as sinners, we connect with Adam and Eve at the scene of the tree in the garden. The taste of the fruit is still fresh on their lips, and there, in the beginning, we find Satan and we find sin. If we fast-forward to 15 minutes ago, we find ourselves with the taste of fruit still fresh on our own lips, with the tree not too far away, and we find Satan and we find sin.
Not much has changed sine that moment in the garden. And what I meant earlier when I said that sin and Satan lack creativity is that everything has been the same since this moment. The lies never change. The thing that stumbled Adam and Eve stumbled me 15 minutes ago. There is nothing creative about Satan’s plan and execution, the only creative element is the way we continue to find ways to hide our sin. For Adam and Eve, it was clothes. They sinned and when the disruption took place they could feel it in their bones, they could feel it on their skin, and the immediate reaction was to cover up what they were feeling. For us, well, it’s all a little different, but it’s still really all the same…we just want to hide.
The only thing about the Creation story that lacks creativity is sin.
But if there is one thing that redeems this absence of creativity, it is the presence of grace.
When we thing of our own sin, we look back to Adam and Eve in the garden, we transport our spirit to the beginning. So in our mind, we connect the beginning of everything to sin. We see sin as something that has been there since the beginning; therefore we sort of see it as a part of us.
But this is just another lie.
Sin wasn’t there at the beginning. Was it sin that spoke the world into existence? The air and the planets, the animals and atoms? Was it sin that breathed life into man? Was it sin that saw something was off and broke that man and created a woman? Was it sin that tossed the stars into their places or moved the earth into just the right spot? Was it sin that smiled and saw that everything was good? Was it sin that put the smile on a baby’s face?
Was it sin in the beginning?
Or was it something else?
It was grace that breathed into my lungs and made me a man. It was grace that dug out the Grand Canyon that day so I could imagine my sins at the bottom. It was grace that threw the stars into the night. It was grace at the beginning, not sin.
If our lives are a painting, grace is the canvas. The foundations of our lives are rooted in grace, not sin. The paint on the canvas, over time, has become very dark with the blacks and greys of sin, but the canvas is still grace. The picture, once vivid and bright, has become blurred and smeared over time, but the canvas is still grace.
The canvas is grace and the picture becomes overwhelmed by the dark paint of sin. So when we look at it, we see ourselves, our story, we see our painting as sin.
You, your story, is not a story of sin. Sin lacks creativity. Your story is not one of mistakes, lost ways, and shortcomings. You, your story, is a story of grace, a grace that breathes creativity. Your story is one that speaks of a path lost, but a paradise found.
We may think our lives are defined in the painting by sin, and to us all we may see is the darkness of the art. All we may see is our mistakes and wrong paths, but we cannot forget what our foundation is. These are the uncreative lies we’ve heard forever. Satan is as old as sin; his ways are as old as sin, but God…his ways are new everyday. His ways are new and fresh as the day is young. And his ways…well…
With grace as our canvas, the painting becomes dark over time. But something happens in the process, it’s called redemption. Because again, sin lacks creativity and grace breathes it. Sin eats ham and cheese sandwiches every day for lunch, but grace feasts on the buffet in the banquet it created.
The artist of our painting paints himself into it. He, the Creator himself, enters into the painting and takes in the grey stokes of paint to reveal the vivid masterpiece underneath. The Artist soaks in the shades of black to reveal the original beauty, the beauty that has been there since the beginning, the beauty of grace. So with our canvases of grace and with Jesus as our artist, may we understand that everything is redeemed; that sin was not there in the beginning, it was grace. The remedy was there long before the disease.