Words of Worth

Expect the Unexpected

August 24, 2013

expect the unexpectedSometimes people don’t do what we expect them to do, but rather, they do the unexpected. This observation was driven home to me the other day when my book club, after having read a novel about art forgery, decided that the best place to conduct our “after the reading” discussion was at the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia.

The museum is unique in that Barnes integrated his collection in “ensembles” of mixed media so it was no surprise to see a 20th -century Picasso positioned next to a 16th -century French wood sculpture. Several works of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are featured, but not necessarily on the same wall or even in the same room of the museum. So each time I came across a painting that I was sure was a Picasso, turned out it was a Matisse! Not wanting to be the only art history drop out, I decided to involve my book club cronies. I had them stand in front of a painting that was obviously a Picasso, and then asked, “Who painted this?” And without any hesitation, each and every time, they said, “Picasso”. Whew! Art ignorance loves company! We all expected Picasso and were fooled by the unexpected Matisse.

I readily admit my deficiencies in the art world. I don’t know why much of what Matisse painted looks like Picasso’s work or vice versa. I don’t know who influenced or perhaps copied whom, but apparently they both saw something worth imitating in their artistic style. And I caught on sooner rather than later, fortunately, so that for the remainder of the tour I followed the opposite of my instincts. I saw what I expected to be a Picasso and declared it a Matisse, because sometimes people do unexpected things.

This reminds me of Jesus and how He is portrayed in each of the Gospels. Many examples exist of Jesus doing the unexpected. In the story of Martha and Mary, we might expect that Jesus would have sided with Martha and agreed that her sister Mary should, rather than recline at Jesus’ feet, help Martha serve. But Jesus did the unexpected. He affirmed, rather than rebuked Mary, saying that she had chosen the good thing. (Luke 10:38-42)

So, too, Jesus did the unexpected when He didn’t empathize with His mother when for three days she searched for her Son while He was preaching in the temple. Jesus didn’t say, “I’m sorry mom for making you worry.” He questioned why she searched for Him in the first place and then simply said, “I’m doing my Father’s business.” (Luke 2:43-51). He had chosen the good thing also.

Example after example of Jesus doing the unexpected can be found in Scripture — so much so that the more we get to know Him and His character, the more we can expect Jesus to do the unexpected. And the more He imitates His Father in Heaven.

My book club read a book about how art can be forged to imitate an authentic work, perhaps of Rembrandt, and no one would expect anyone other than Rembrandt painted it. Matisse imitated Picasso so credibly that one would think a piece was an authentic Picasso. Jesus imitated His Father so perfectly that all we can see is God in Him. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived differently than the world expects us to live so that others could see Jesus in us? Forgiving when others expect us to hold a grudge? Thinking of others first when the world says, “Look out for number one.”?

Just like Matisse may have imitated Picasso, and modeled his style of painting after him, we too should model our style of living after Jesus so that His worth can be seen in us. How wonderful to live in such a way that people couldn’t tell us apart from Jesus! (sv)

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ!”

I Cor 11:1

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