When my son Micah brought me lunch this afternoon, I commended him for his artful arrangement, and then asked him this question: "So why is this lunch...
...more Christian than this lunch...
...even though neither one is actually un-Christian?"
His first response was to look at me like I had just pulled out a joint and lit up - I'm sure he must have thought something like "Good grief, Dad, WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING????" (which is probably what some of you are thinking now as well). But then he paused, as soon as he realized I was serious, and he began gazing intently at the plate, thinking hard.
Go on. Take a good look. How would YOU answer that question?
"Was it because I brought it to you with a good heart?" Ah, now that is definitely on the right track, and certainly part of the equation (the most important part in fact).
"Well, that is certainly what makes it Christian," I said. "But what makes it more Christian?"
Now I asked this question of Micah, because Micah is our most artistic child - if anyone could see what I was driving at, it would be him. "Is it because it looks better?" Ah! He has nailed it! In fact, I'll bet just about everyone reading these words can see the difference too - you may not be able to explain why, but you can tell that the first picture is better, it is more beautiful.
It's the beauty that makes the first lunch more Christian.
So we talked about beauty - about how when you see something beautiful, you just know it. There is something right, something better, something transcendant there just beyond the edge of the objective. C. S. Lewis talks about it as Joy, and he notes that when you go looking for it as an end in and of itself, you never end up finding it. But when you learn to look beyond it, to what Joy and Beauty are pointing to, you end up getting both of them as well. But it takes eyes to see - it takes faith to apprehend what is unseen.
Most people look at wind blowing through the aspens and think, "Hmm... it's a bit breezy out." An artist, however, sees the sun flickering through the leaves on a warm afternoon and gasps, "Wow. It is beautiful!" And the Christian (those who actually have eyes to see such things, at least) - the Christian looks at the leaves dancing and sees the fingers of God, touching each of them, guiding every breath of air, the buzzing of each individual insect, the scent of sap and earth, all welling up together in an orchestrated cauchophany of Beauty. Simply because God delights in it, because it points us back to him.
Anyone can slap some food on a plate and call it good. But it takes a Christian to see the beauty in all of life - whether artwork, or music, or baseball, or lunch - it takes a Christian to pause for a few moments and to emulate the Creator, drawing the Beautiful to the surface, not simply for the sake of Beauty, but for the sake of Him. Because He delights in beauty. And beauty makes him known.
That's what made my lunch today more Christian. And I think my son gets it...