I believe that when God sees the church, he sees a beautiful, young woman.
This is our true identity in the eyes of our maker. Frank Viola, author of "Pagan Christianity" and "Reimagining Church," says that the Father is looking for a House and a Family for himself and for the Son he is bringing forth a Bride and a Body.
I mentioned this to a new friend as I showed him my Laodicea painting, who, with good reason perhaps, is a little cynical about the church. He responded, "Why did you paint her young and beautiful? As far I as I can tell the church today is an old and gnarly hag!" From a human perspective there is a lot of truth in that. Yet our Lord always sees us as we will be, according to our potential and his plan, not just according to our current failures.
As Paul says in Ephesians, Christ loves the church and will sanctify her, wash her with his words, "so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." That is our true identity, who we will be when he is done.
In this spirit I have begun painting a representation of the Seven Messages of Jesus to the Seven Churches of Revelation 2 and 3. These messages are prophetic snapshots of the course of the last 2000 years and as such have a lot to say to us.
Up to this point I have painted Laodicea and Ephesus, which are especially significant because Laodicea is representative of the church of today, the last Days church. And Ephesus is the church of the first century. Jesus message to this church is indicative of where they went wrong. If we are still, as a global church, going down the wrong way that they turned into, then we need to go back to that point in order to find the right way to head in now.
This is a work in progress, as you can see. There are parts still in black and white that are still to be painted in color, and has an unfinished border as well.
The significance of Ephesus is that she is the first century church. She was doing almost everything right. You could say that she was in the spring of the church, living in intimate fellowship with her Lord. And yet, even there the seeds were being sown that led to the church falling so far from the original faith that within 250 short years, there was very little left within the teaching and practice of the church that was at all similar to the beginning, that which God gave them.More ...