On a recent sunny fall day, my husband and I went on a walking tour in Philadelphia that showcased many of the murals painted by the Mural Arts program in the city. It was fascinating to learn about the process used to create these beautiful pieces of artwork. It was even more interesting to hear about how the community was involved in each mural. Permissions were obtained from building owners, meetings were held with artist and neighbors, and ultimately many in the community worked together to create a masterpiece. There is one in particular that I was amazed by. As we stood in a parking lot, the tour guide pointed out several aspects of this particular mural painted on a brick wall and the meaning behind it. Next, the group made some observations. Then…the tour guide drew our attention to something that really changed our perspective. The “brick wall” the mural was painted on was actually part of the mural! In other words, the artist had painted a flat wall to look exactly like the brick on the attached building, then painted the mural in the middle of the “brick” wall. Our jaws dropped as we all drew closer to look at this amazing Trompe-l’œil. Also, I don’t know about anyone else on the tour, but I learned a new word.
It was amazing how the faux brick surrounding the colorful mural blended in with the surroundings, making the mural itself stand out even more. So, I’m thinking, as human beings, should we be blending in like the “brick” or working to stand out like the mural? It’s so much easier to blend in even when we are forty-something years old and middle school is far behind us. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves; we don’t want to upset people; we are too busy with our own day to respond to, or even notice, the needs of others. Standing out is difficult. It takes energy. It’s uncomfortable. Yet, that’s exactly what Jesus asks us to do.
- Even when circumstances demand otherwise, we are told to rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
- Rather than respond on social media to someone we disagree with, seek them out and make peace with them in person. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Even more absurd, love and pray for your “enemies”. (Matthew 5:44-46)
- If we want to be important, we should serve others. (Matthew 20:26-28)
But why? What is the purpose of living our lives in such a way that we stand out? Are we simply trying to be a “good person,” or just drawing attention to our actions and that’s where it ends? In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
So, if I want my life to point to God, it needs to look different; it needs to stand out. What might that look like for you today? I think a verse I came across recently sums it up well: “ Just one thing: as citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27a)
Cindy is a blog contributor and board member at Study With Friends Ministries. For morecheck out our Using God’s Word in Everyday Life series. You can also listen to our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcast on iTunes, or listening through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio.