My eyes could stare at a brilliant piece of artwork for ages. My ears rejoice when they hear a perfect and uniquely harmonized chord. I am intrigued by women who seem to have various areas of their life in order while simultaneously endeavoring toward a noble cause, loving their family, and creating community.
What makes these things beautiful to the senses, emotions, and mind are the layering and blending of different things to create a more beautiful whole. In brief, they exude dimension.
I love bright colors and varying patterns, but often when I try to pair them together, it feels like too much or seems too bold.
I was experiencing this recently while coloring with a friend, and she briefly showed me the art of blending. Now I'm sure my mom taught me how to blend colors together, I'm sure various art teachers through the years explained the concept, and I'm positive that I have appreciated it passively and actively as I've strolled through museums or flipped through magazines. But the fact that it is a creative technique that brings odds to right has eluded my mind all these years.
A few days later, I was learning a new piece on the piano and encountered a chord that required more reach than my tiny hands could muster. As I played around with the chord trying to figure out which note I could leave out, I discovered that every note in the chord was essential to its full meaning in the piece. So I attempted to roll the chord, which basically means that I was playing each note individually and quickly while rolling my wrist to make it sound as if the notes were all played at the exact same time. This is challenging and takes finesse. As I was practicing this one chord over and over, it struck me that every note in the chord was valuable, because as color blending attracts the eye to art, note blending attracts the ear to music. This chord had dimension.
In the same way that I didn't know how to create dimension when coloring, I often struggle to create dimension in new relationships. I'm not sure how to invite the stranger sitting across from me into the really hard thing while also not sharing too much information. Sometimes I don't know how to share a scripture or an encouraging thought without being trite or missing the opportunity to speak into the most broken places altogether. So in frustration with myself, and my perceived lack of ability, I often either keep my mouth shut or forge aimlessly ahead knowing that what I have to say won't be enough.
Lack of dimension also happens when we, the Body of Christ, shut people out or degrade people because they are the wrong age, have a different view of politics or ministry, or maybe simply disagree with us. I get frustrated when I see this tendency in myself and others. Most of us say we value variety of thought and culture, but when we examine our lives can we truly say we value it? Do we spend time listening to those older than us? Do we value those who share the Gospel differently than we do? Do we have peaceful conversations seeking understanding with those who have different political views? Do our friends look different that we do?
Paul gives the antidote to this lack of dimension in 1 Corinthians 13. It is a warning and instruction to the church to include love in their actions. The body of Christ will be the most beautiful and attractive to the world when we also have dimension. When we appreciate others' gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and actions, trusting that God is working through others for His glory and is working to sanctify them for their good, we can love others for who they truly are without needing to fix or improve them. We are then freed to accept others who are made in God's image and to practice loving them well and inviting others who look different from us into our community.
These aren’t things that come easily or naturally. They spill out of Jesus' love for us and take lots of practice and grace.
When we do this, we will be the church as we ought to be - a church that is appealing to the eye, a testament to Jesus alone, and enticing to the world. We will be a community with dimension.