May Reverend Reflections

Hello First Presbyterian Church,

There is a good chance that you’ve seen the painting pictured above. It is a “Pollock.” The painter’s name was Jackson Pollock and this particular painting, created during Pollock’s “drip period,” is entitled Autumn Rhythm (Number 30). If you have seen it before then there is also a good chance that you reflexively said, “I could do that” or “My four year old could do that.” If only you or your 4-year-old had actually created such a masterpiece, because it is worth around $140 million!

The brilliance of this painting is the way in which it conveys the motion and movement of the painter. The swirls, scribbles, and drips testify to the presence of the painter. They document his movements—his swinging arm, his shuffling feet, his twirling wrist. In other words, this painting points beyond itself to an active creator.

It is drastically different than this painting by Paul Cezanne entitled Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier, or, for those of you with Kendra Cooke’s linguistic capabilities, Jug, Curtain and Fruit Bowl:

This is, of course, a still life. It, too, is a masterpiece—the most expensive still life ever sold at auction. This painting by Cezanne is tangibly different from the Pollock above, because there is little movement conveyed. It is not called a “still life” for no reason. Someone, at some point, must have arranged these fruits just so, but the position of the fruits do not convey the same kind of movement as the swirls and drips in Pollock’s painting. This is a study in balance and form that evokes a certain emotional response from its viewer. That response, however, is not “someone has been here,” like it is with the Pollock above. 

And so I ask you, is your life best represented by Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm or by Cezanne’s  Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier? When people experience you and watch you from a distance, do they remark to themselves that they can see evidence of your Creator and Savior at work, or is there little evidence of the Spirit’s work in your life? 

In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul describes the Spirit as one who bears fruit in and through our lives. Our hearts are the fertile ground in which he moves and works—producing fruit from what was once a barren and hard land. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” 

These fruits are the swirls and lines on the painting which is your life as a Christian. They testify to the work of the Creator in your heart. The question, though, is whether they are visible—to yourself and to those who encounter you from day to day? 

If not, then I would encourage you not to pursue the fruit, but to pursue the Spirit who produces said fruit. The fruit will come when you commune daily with our God. Pursuing the fruit alone may prove effective for a little while, but it is not sustainable or repeatable. It is the difference between eating the eggs but neglecting the chicken, and caring for the chicken and receiving the eggs as a gift. 

The evidence of God’s work will begin to surface in you when you daily remind yourself of the gospel and have learned to live in the love and upward call of Jesus Christ, our Lord. This requires prayer and meditation upon his word. It requires fasting and restraint, but the result will be fruit that points to the presence and activity of our Creator.

“It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11)

Grace and peace,
Jonathan +