Wineskins Archive

January 22, 2014

AfterGlow: Which Lines to Color Outside (Jul 1992)

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by Phillip Morrison
July, 1992

The “treasure boxes” of our four adult children are filled with pictures painstakingly drawn and proudly presented. Originally tacked to the kitchen bulletin board or held by magnets on the refrigerator door, they now wait to fulfill some nostalgic purpose. Resurfaced, they will bring a new flood of laughter, tears, and “Do you remembers?”

To an objective observer, those childish drawings would have no value. But parents (and especially grandparents) are not objective. They have their own value system, and it declares the scribblings to be as priceless as long-lost hieroglyphics.

As children grow up, they continue to color outside the lines, and in more serious ways. We teach and train and persuade and pray – but we don’t ration our love according to how well our children keep the rules.

That’s something we have learned from God. He wants us to do right, and he sent the One who is uniquely his son to model perfect obedience. It was for us (not just sinners like us) that Jesus died as the supreme expression of God’s love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus spent much of his ministry throwing off the shackles people tried in vain to bind upon him. At the same time he constantly reminded everyone that he was here on kingdom business. “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31).

Critics were always present, always ready to pounce whenever Jesus crossed their lines of custom and tradition. They were aghast that he would pluck grain on the Sabbath, or heal the sick on that day, or presume to cast out demons, or forgive sins. Jesus did not err by crossing the lines; his enemies erred by drawing their lines in the wrong places.

The Nazarene elders must have thought Jesus brash and disrespectful when he pointed to himself as the fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 4:16-30). Allowing a woman to anoint him with expensive perfume prdouced at least one spoken complaint and probably a lot of raised eyebrows (John 12:1-8).

Are you coloring outside the lines of custom and convention? Maybe you need to be. Are you coloring outside God’s lines? You shouldn’t be; but learning to color better is only part of the answer. The damage done is not corrected by erasers or delete keys, but by the blood of the Lamb.

Mary and Joseph were as frantic as any parents whose twelve-year-old son was missing for three days. There is no indication that he was disrespectful or rebellious. But even at that early age, when the wishes of his father and mother clashed with the will of his Father, Jesus’ path was clear (Luke 2:41-49). We have our “treasure boxes” but Mary had a “treasure heart” in which such amazing events were stored to be pondered again and again.

Encouragement to color outside the lines is neither an invitation to ignore the will of God nor an enticement to adopt an “anything goes” philosophy. It is a challenge to be as bold as Jesus when he healed the sick on the Sabbath and consorted with publicans and sinners. It is also a plea to be as submissive as Jesus in Gethsemane, praying for God’s will to prevail.

Phillip Morrison was, for many years, managing editor of Wineskins Magazine and wrote the column “AfterGlow” opposite its inside back cover. He was also the former managing editor for Upreach magazine, and worked as a fund-raising consultant and conducted study tours to Bible lands.

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