Learning to see and appreciate beauty more has been one of the greatest joys of my time at Grove City. I had Civilization and the Arts with Dr. Drake my sophomore year, and it was an amazing class. We studied many great works of art and music and I learned the discipline of simply looking, of listening, of actively receiving art.
I remember when Dr. Drake talked about the work of Makoto Fujimura. And I recently heard him speak on campus as part of the 2017 Christian Writers Conference. It was amazing.
Mr. Fujimura opened by declaring that we need to see culture as a garden to steward and as a world of abundance instead of one with limited resources. He suggested that the only cultures which struggle to see abundance are Western ones which have learned to measure success in limited resource models in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Christians with a “culture war” mentality have not been helping.
There is not enough time in a short post to share half of what Mr. Fujimura shared with us – I wish I could find a video recording of his address. A few things were particularly striking to me, though.
The art on the right was commissioned by Crossway and is based on the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Mr. Fujiumra spent a significant part of his time sharing the background of that verse with us, and what he believes we should learn from it.
In John 11, we find the story of Jesus’ delayed coming, Lazarus’ death, the dismay of Mary and Martha, and the resurrection of Lazarus. The wisdom of Jesus is revealed in the way he interacted with Mary and with Martha; although they both said the same thing to him, he gave words to the analytical Martha but tears to Mary.
So we learn that the gospel is about tears.
In John 12, Mary is found anointing the feet of Jesus, wasting a pound of expensive ointment. Judas is outraged — the money should have been given to the poor. Judas didn’t understand until it was too late, but the gospel is not pragmatic.
We ought to waste our very best on Jesus.
Finally, Mr. Fujimura suggested that we ought to live more like Lazarus, who did absolutely nothing. He just died. But if Christians lived like Lazarus, with absolute confidence in God and deep joy in our relationship with Christ, how would that change our culture?
The gospel gives us confidence to “chill out” with Jesus.
If the American church understands this, perhaps we will have a culture of abundance.