The parable of the unveiled painting

The Kingdom of God is like an art gallery that was holding an exhibition for a beautiful and powerful painting. Three people were co-sponsoring the exhibit and each had their own opinion about how the painting should be unveiled.

The first sponsor believed that it was imperative to make a brochure with information from artists and scholars regarding the details of technique, style, context, etc. related to the painting. These brochures would have miniatures of the said painting, with pictures focusing on specific aspects that were vital to the understanding and appreciation of the painting.

The sponsor felt it was not enough for people to see and experience the painting – that they had to do so correctly.

The second sponsor believed that the first experience of the painting should be direct, without intercession. He agreed with the first sponsor, however, that there must be limitations to the way people viewed the work, and he prepared to be present to answer questions about and give a lecture about the painting after the unveiling. He felt it was his responsibility to make sure that people did have access to the painting directly, but felt it his responsibility to vanguard against corruption of the artist’s intent in the creation of the painting.

The last sponsor was of the opinion that the best thing they could do as sponsors was already being done. They were to give people an opportunity to see the painting, and that is all that should be done.

Though they deliberated, the three sponsors were unable to come to collusion. In the end, each did what he thought was best for the patrons whom they were able to reach.

Sponsor One made thousands of copies of his brochure and stood at street corners and ticket offices passing them out with tickets.

Sponsor Two polished his speech and reviewed his notes in preparation for the opening exhibit.

Sponsor Three stayed in the gallery and marveled at the beauty of the painting.

The day of the unveiling arrived. There were many people eager to see the painting that had generated much buzz in the press and in the artistic community. The line wrapped around the building.

Those who had received the brochures from the first sponsor came in well educated, knowing exactly what to look for. They “ooh’ed” and “ahh’ed” at the aspects of the painting they knew to look for, and did not waste their time looking elsewhere, or for themselves. After a few moments, they moved on to other paintings, keeping their brochures as souvenirs of the experience. In their haste, they missed the speech that the second sponsor had prepared.

As the brochure-receivers cleared away from the painting, the others in the room drew closer to the painting, mesmerized by its beauty.

In this moment, the second sponsor stepped up to a nearby podium, cleared his throat and tested the microphone. A large number in the crowd turned to appreciate the speaker. His speech was eloquent, articulate, and well educated. As the visitors listened to him, they commented on his masterful public speaking ability, his intelligence, and his knowledge about the work on display. When the sponsor finally finished his speech, one of the visitors raised her hand and began asking questions of the sponsor. Others followed suit, and soon were off in discussions and debates that they found to be intensely fulfilling and interesting.

During all of this, sponsor three continued to look only at the painting, deep in thought, full of admiration and inquisitiveness for the Truth it was revealing. Occasionally others would notice him and would stop to ask him his interpretation. He would politely smile at them and welcome them, and then turn to look again at the painting, content with showing them how he felt, rather than trying to tell them.

Some felt him rude, others thought him rather odd, but a very few visitors were overwhelmed by the passion that the sponsor was showing for the painting, and simply stood beside him.

He who has ears, let him hear.
Eric Moore

~ by blueporch on April 13, 2011.

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