Lessons Inspired by the Green Ninja
Connecting today’s art experience with our spiritual journey!
My grandson, just 4, asked me to help him draw a ninja – not just any ninja – but the “green” ninja from Ninjago. I’m not skilled at drawing true likenesses, and I was pretty sure my lame attempts were not going to please my exacting little master. His dad reminded me that I could find images online, and not only that, I could print them out! So I found the “green” ninja, printed it out, and traced it on his paper. My tracing was just OK – there were some rough spots – where it was difficult to tell from the original picture what the details were supposed to be.
This experience reminded me that one of the beginning steps of growing, developing as an artist is the act of imitation. And that got me to thinking about the relationship between art and our spiritual journey.
I’ve been reading the books of Moses this month. Exodus describes with great detail the building and preparation of the tabernacle. In those descriptions, God illustrates artistry as imitation, skill, talent, and gifting of the Holy Spirit!
“Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!Exodus 31:2-5 NLT
In what ways are imitation, skill, talent,
and gifting related to our spiritual journey?
When Moses examined the work of those who designed and sewed together the garments for the priests who would serve in the tabernacle, he noted that all had been done just as the Lord had commanded him. In fact that phrase is repeated 9 times in Exodus 39. Clearly Bezalel had skill, talent, and the gift of the Spirit in that work BUT he also carefully imitated exactly what God instructed.
The scripture tells us to imitate God –
especially in the way that He loves us, His sacrificial love!
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT
Before Bezalel put together the priestly garments, the yarn had to be spun. The author of Exodus writes, “All the women who were skilled in sewing and spinning prepared blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen cloth. All the women who were willing used their skills to spin the goat hair into yarn” (Exodus 35:25-26 NLT) God used skill already present in His people to accomplish the task ahead of them.
God created us, He knows us, we are products of His creative power – and He has designed each of us with work to do! He provides the skill/talent to accomplish that work!
This is the explanation: God has made us what we are. God has created us in King Jesus for the good works that he prepared, ahead of time, as the road we must travel.Ephesians 2:10 NTE
Gifting of the Spirit
The first recorded gifting of the Spirit was to Bezalel, which just reinforces how significant the work of building the tabernacle was. Later we read the Spirit came upon Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Saul, David, and many others! In each case, the Spirit was given to accomplish a specific purpose.
Jesus taught His disciples that His going away would be better because He would send His Spirit, the Helper, who would come along side of His people, teaching them, and reminding them of all that Jesus had taught.
We receive this same Spirit when we trust Jesus for salvation.
In that moment we also receive gifts given
specifically to build up the body of Christ!
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT
Our spiritual journeys are different, but they all have common elements, imitation, skill/talent, and gifts of the Spirit! May all that we do lead us into a deeper, closer relationship with our God, and cause us to bring Him glory!
“Lord, when I feel that what I’m doing is insignificant and unimportant, help me to remember that everything I do is significant and important in your eyes, because you love me and you put me here, and no one else can do what I am doing in exactly the way I do it.”― Brennan Manning, Souvenirs of Solitude: Finding Rest in Abba’s Embrace