THE ART OF EASTER
Upside Down to Right Side Up
April 20, 2014
A friend of mine once told me that an intellectual makes simple things complex; an artist makes complex things simple. Jesus was—and is—the ultimate artist!
This weekend, as you know, we have the opportunity to show the world the beauty and power of what He has done. At Fellowship Church, I’ll be kicking off a brand new series called “The Art of Easter.” Attached to this newsletter you’ll find notes I’ve been working on for this first weekend of the series. I hope these notes help you in preparation for the biggest weekend of your year!
Remember, it’s all about pointing people to the ultimate artist, Jesus Christ, who gives us all the ability to start over with a fresh canvas in life and eternity.
If any of this helps you, use it. I’ll be praying for you this Easter. I know God’s going to do just some amazing things…I can’t wait to hear what He does through you and your church!
ILLUS: I remember I rode a roller coaster at a state fair. And several times, the ride went upside down. After it was done, I sort of stumbled off the ride, along with the other people. And what was so weird was, I couldn’t get my equilibrium. Several people had to find the nearest trashcans. It was a crazy thing, a weird thing. To be going that fast upside down!
Our bodies aren’t made to remain upside down for very long. If we do, our heart has to work harder to pump blood to our legs and other extremities. The blood pools in the brain, giving us the possibility of having a stroke. So basically, if you remain upside down for too long, you die. We’re not made to live upside down.
Maybe you’ve been upside down. And you can think about, “Okay, I rode a roller coaster like you’re talking about.” Or maybe you stand on your head, or do a flip, a dive into a pool, yoga, stretching, Crossfit, bungee, skiing, skateboarding…and for a moment, you turn upside down.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live upside down? To see people upside down? If you lived upside down and looked at people upside down, everyone would have a beard. Everyone would frown. Everyone’s feet would be where their head was supposed to go, and their head would be where their feet would supposed to be.
So often, you’ll look at something – maybe a picture or a painting – and you’ll say, “Wow. That’s upside down!” Maybe to get the last drops of bottled water in your mouth, you have to turn the bottle upside down. When you want to totally clean out a drawer, you turn it upside down. Over the last several years, in this schizophrenic economy, a lot of people have been upside down with their homes, cars, or other assets. To be upside down means that you owe more than your asset is worth.
I would argue that our culture, in many ways, is upside down. What is wrong is really right. And what’s right is really wrong. It’s wrong to talk about what’s right, and it’s right to talk about what’s wrong. Things are upside down. They’re upside down in our government. They’re upside down financially. They’re upside down relationally, as far as marriages and families. It seems like our morals are becoming more and more upside down.
Isn’t it true that wherever we look, we can find something or see something that’s upside down?
When you’re upside down, you don’t have a foundation. You’re not really on your feet. When you’re upside down, you have a unique perspective; a perspective that’s skewed.
The Bible tells us that our world is upside down. Granted, there are some great things upside down. But by and large, our world is upside down. We’re upside down because we have a sinetic condition. We have our desire to do our own thing. So basically, we take the canvas of our lives and we take the art supplies ourselves, and we do what we want to do. We paint our own portrait, our own pleasure, our own portfolio, our own possessions. We paint our own path. And, if we’re not careful, we ultimately paint ourselves into our own corner.
And what’s so upside down about it is, we think that we’re painting a masterpiece. But in reality, we’re painting a disasterpiece.
All of these things, all of these different colors that I’m throwing on this canvas, represent all of our lives. Because whenever we try to take control of our lives; whenever we do life sovereignly, ultimately we make a mess-up of our lives. We convince ourselves, “I’m painting a masterpiece!” But in reality, we’re painting a disaterpiece.
Our world is upside down. Our lives are upside down. And if the truth were known, there’s a gnawing sense of this reality that we’re upside down, that our equilibrium is off, our feet aren’t planted, and we know something is amiss.
T.S. Could it be this Easter that God wants to turn our lives from upside down to right side up? Could it be that there’s a power, a force, a love, a grace, a mercy so magnificent it can take our mess-ups and turn them into masterpieces? Is it true that our great God can turn our inversion into a true conversion? Is it true that our great God can move us from being upside down to right side up?
I believe the answer is yes. And just for the brief time that remains, I want to comment on this answer about moving from being upside down to right side up.
The world, in its original condition, was an absolute masterpiece. The color, the depth, warmth, beauty, the symmetry, the perspective was something to behold. It was signed by God himself. Mankind, as we know, chose to do his own thing. God gives us the freedom to do what we want to do with the art supplies he’s given us. And man chose to basically highjack and to steal the art supplies and to paint his own painting.
Due to the fact that we’re made in the image of God, we have a choice. As God chose to make us, we have this choice. The Scriptures say that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. In other words, we’re artwork; we’re one of a kind.
Man, though, ultimately chose to make a mess of his life – morally, relationally, physically, and spiritually. Although we have unlimited potential, our lives – your life and mine – are one big mess, due to the fact that we’ve missed the mark, which is the definition of sin.
God allowed us to face the consequences of our mess-ups. And he allowed it to go on until the right time. He commissioned his son, Jesus the Christ, to put on the flesh. Eight to ten pounds of epidermis, of skin, of under armor. Jesus painted the perfect picture. Every stroke was significant. Every color was perfect. Everything he did was a true masterpiece.
And he was a masterpiece for our disaterpiece. Jesus lived right side up in an upside down world. People didn’t understand his painting because they were upside down. Critics came from everywhere, because they were upside down. Even his friends and family; even many of the disciples didn’t get it, because they were upside down.
When Jesus was arrested; when he was beaten and battered; when he was hung on a cross; when he said, “It is finished,” and breathed his last breath, everyone said, “Well, he was a great guy. He called himself the Messiah. Maybe he was just another man who walked across the stage of life who claimed to be God.
The world was upside down. Day became night. Unusual things happened around the planet. The critics cheered. The disciples were riddle in fear. Judas, the one who betrayed him, hung himself in depression. Simon Peter, the one who dissed him, went fishing in defeat. The rest of the followers, specifically Thomas, had a bout with doubt.
T.S. Then Jesus rose again! He did what he said he was going to do. He turned the world from upside down to right side up. The inversion – and upside down world – which led to this perversion of a painting, this aversion to Jesus. Then the conversion took place.
Simon Peter moved from defeat to one of the most dynamic disciples in history. Thomas, after seeing the resurrection, moved from a doubter to true difference maker. The church was established, and it literally turned the world from upside down to right side up.
Now, to you and me, Jesus wants to turn our world from upside down to right side up. We’re inverted because of our behavior, because of our mess-ups. Yet, we can be converted, we can be turned from upside down to right side up. Jesus will put our feet beneath us.
Look at this painting. As I turn if from upside down to right side up, Jesus takes all of our mess all of this paint that seems so arbitrary, and turns it into something beautiful because of his death, burial, and resurrection.
Here we were splattered with sin; our lives a mess-up, mess after mess, abstract at best. During this conversion we’ve given Jesus the art supplies. He doesn’t grab the brush or manhandle us. He takes our disaterpiece and turns it into a masterpiece.
Hair. The Bible says God knows the number of hairs on our head. Luke 12:7, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Think about the knowledge, the intricate, specific knowledge he has for your life and mine. Yet, he still loves us more than we can even comprehend.
Look at his eyes. Jesus sees inside of our soul. He sees who we were, who we are, and what we’re going to be.
Think about the ears. Jesus said in Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Jesus hears it all. He knows it all. And he wants us to simply say, “Take my canvas. Here are the art supplies. I give them to you.”
Look at his mouth. Jesus speaks the truth in love to you and to me. He tells us that we’re valuable. That we’re lovable, that we’re capable, that we’re forgivable.
Look at the skin. That’s the incarnation. John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” It seems upside down, but it’s really right side up. Jesus has been there. He totally and completely identifies with us.
Isn’t it great? If we’ll just give him the art supplies, God will use everything in our lives to paint a picture like we’ve never seen before.
Here’s what is so ironic. When we take control of this process, we’re out of control; we’re upside down. Yet, when we give up control, then we’re right side up. Again, when we’re upside down, we have a whack perspective. We’re disoriented, we’re limited. When the conversion takes place, that’s when we have the right perspective. That’s when we’re balanced. And that’s when we have the kind of spiritual and holy equilibrium that God desires.
I think it’s interesting that we have this desire to take things that are upside down and put them right side up.
The woman was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus drew in the sand. He turned her life from upside down to right side up.
Zaccheus, this rouge IRS agent – he met Jesus, and Jesus turned his life from upside down to right side up.
Lazarus, his close friend who died suddenly – Jesus turned his life from upside down to right side up.
The apostle Paul, this critic and hater of believers – Jesus turned his life from upside down to right side up.
We all have a passion to be put right side up. We’re made to be right side up. We’re not made to live upside down. When something is upside down, the top is at the bottom and the bottom is at the top. The end that should be at the top is at the bottom.
I like how the iPhone automatically puts pictures right side up. There’s even a website “upsidetext.com” – you type and it turns it upside down.
The reason most are upside down is because they’ve never allowed Jesus to put them right side up. The good news up is he’s done the right side up thing. All we have to do is receive it, admit our inversion, and then the conversion takes place.
When God is given the art supplies, then everything in our lives is right side up. But culture will view it as being upside down.
And to show you how the perspective is so perverted in our culture, we think it’s cool for the individual to decide for himself or herself what the right side up is all about; which of course, aside from God we cannot do. The resurrection gave the world the potential to be put back on its feet. If we got this and truly lived out our conversion, then we could turn the world right side up.