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Paint on, Jesus!

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. (1 John 4:11-12 NLT)
It was kind of sobering to me this morning to realize all another may know about Jesus is what they see in me. The example I set, the times my words are judged by my actions, and the moments when God's grace is totally evident in my life may be the only evidence anyone ever gets to experience in this lifetime. That means every moment counts - every word matters - every opportunity to share the grace we have been given is not to be squandered. The evidence of God's love is to be the overshadowing thing another sees when they look upon our lives - for we are the "venue" by which he shares so much about himself!
Albert Schweitzer once said that example was not the main thing we use to influence other people - in fact, he said it is the only thing. Let that one roll around in your heart and mind for just a moment, will you? The example of God's love and grace we exhibit in our ordinary daily life is the ONLY thing that may influence another. Do others see the evidence of God's grace working in our lives, humbling us and revealing just how dependent we are upon his grace to carry us moment by moment? Do they get wrapped up in the intensity of his love toward us because they catch the beat of his heart in the way we love one another? 
God's love is meant to "take expression" within us and it is that expression that is to begin to affect those around us. Expression represents the thing as closely as possible, just in a different "medium" than it first began in. For example, when an artist wants to capture the image of a particular sunset over the calm waters of a serene lake, he begins by putting paint to the canvas - some with small, deliberate strokes - others with larger, bolder and freer strokes. In time, the "medium" of canvas and paint begins to depict the elements of beauty captured in the artist's eye and beheld in his mind. That medium becomes a representation of what is very real, but which depicts for a much longer time what would otherwise be gone in a short period of time. If we all had to remember the sunset in our memory, we'd all lose some of the quality of it over time. The example captured on the medium of canvas allows us to keep that memory fresh.
In much the same way, God uses us as the "medium" by which his full expression of love may be understood, captured time and time again by those who most need a "refresher" in what it is like, how it welcomes one in, and where it begins to bind up the brokenness of one's miserable soul. We are the canvas, his grace and love are the paint, and his hand is what faithfully captures the image of his intense love and places elements of that love and grace into our lives for others to behold. As we consider that today, let us be not so much concerned with the "perfection" of the image as we are in becoming the "medium" upon which he may place whatever image it is that others need to see in order to connect with his love. Just sayin!

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