One of the most overwhelming truths about our existence is that everything is subject to the limitations of time: the glory of empires meet their fatidic end; the glory of heroes turn into a faint memory, and all creatures come and go. These were probably the thoughts of Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, when he stated the famous maxim "Panta Rhei," which means everything flows. He was a peculiar philosopher, in that he was most likely prone to depression. Hs obscure views of the world were possibly a result of him internalising more than other people of his time about the hopelessness of this world.
But should we, Christians, fall prey to feelings of nostalgia and melancholy? Even though for some more than for others, being optimistic is a hard endeavour, we ought to see time as working always to our advantage! Indeed, the word of God says in 1 John 2:17, "The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever."
We look and boldly run ahead, knowing every second is a step closer to Heaven! All the things we do have eternal consequences. The relationships we build with our brothers and sisters in Christ will endure forever, because we, His Bride, were made to last forever! Nothing is lost, everything is gained.
Original watercolor painting by Ruxandra Ionce
My grandma used to tell me I should learn how to be alone with myself. Everyone of us will go through seasons of loneliness and isolation for reasons beyond our control. These can be terrifying times, mostly because loneliness does not allow us to camouflage those deep places of our soul that we so successfully cover up with the noises of modern life.
God often uses these times to confront us with the raw state of our souls, to confront us with who we actually are and what we actually have. In solitude, God worked in the lives of the heroes of faith sculpting, refining, and perfecting their characters and purifying their souls. In isolation, on the small island of Patmos, God revealed to John the future glory of the church.
Isolation can be contemplative, peaceful, pleasant. God gave us the gift of imagination to use it according to Philippians 4:8 and fill our minds with beautiful and noble things. We do not suffer more today because our problems are greater than before. Instead, we suffer because the world is too loud and we lose control of the things we let in.
We were made to live in a garden, surrounded by God's creations. However, for many of us it is not physically possible to escape our urban environment. There is a solution: we have Christ with us, beside us, around us. We can use our imagination to better comprehend the reality of Christ being next to us, to contemplate His beauty, and the work of His hands.
Artwork by Ruxandra Ionce
THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT
The righteous man is the one who believes and obeys, a man in whom God finds great pleasure. He is always green and full of life even in the heat of the desert sun, his fruit is sweet, his stature graceful and pleasant for the eye. Anybody who receives the gift of Life at the cross will reflect the beauty of Christ through obedience, nobody is left in want nor with a cup half full. God loves to use His creation to inspire us to see the abundance, the fullness and the incomprehensible joy of the things yet unseen!
"The Lamb of God" by Ruxandra Ionce
THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT
The Giver of Life, the One for whom and through whom all things were made, came on this broken earth to suffer with us and for us, to forgive, to heal and to bring back to life. Jesus Christ, Life itself, in death defeated death. There is no greater message nor more sublime truth than to know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took all the sins of humankind, past, present and future, so that it would never be separated from Him again.
Let us be bold and fearless like John the Baptist, when he loudly proclaimed these truths in front of the crowds: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Let us not fear men with their arguments and actions against such a wonderful truth, and allow for the light God gave us to shine brightly and defeat the darkness of this world. Always remember the words "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Does this illustration resonate with you as a conservative Christian? Earlier this month, we celebrated the resurrection of the King of Kings. Do you remember what He lived for, died for, and rose again for? How can you hold on to and live out this truth daily? Because of the sacrifice and submission of the Lamb of God, you and I are free from the wages of sin. Will you choose to joyfully proclaim this eternal truth even in the midst of fear, panic, and anxiety in our world today?
"The Panoply of God" by Ruxandra Ionce
THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT
Written from prison, Apostle Paul's epistle to the Ephesians stands as a testimony of complete victory over hindering circumstances. The Gospel was being preached in full power, even if the means were sometimes restricted to ink and paper. The Apostle Paul truly was a free man: his body was in prison but his soul enjoyed heavenly freedom.
In Ephesians 6, beginning with verse 11, Paul emphasizes the need to put on a full armor: not just a shield, not just a sword, but the full military attire. It is highly likely that what Paul envisioned was the image of a Roman soldier, as he himself was being surrounded by Roman soldiers. Moreover, the image of a Roman soldier would have been more vivid and relatable for the Gentile readers.
The full armor of God implies martial discipline with no room for compromise, sacrifice, and complete dedication to the calling we have in our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. These weapons are not forged in fire but by God Himself to make us fearless and victorious in the ultimate battle mankind is facing: spiritual warfare.
Like this Roman soldier, let us humble ourselves every morning and surrender completely into God's hands in prayer. The victory has already given, but we still have to go through the battle. Humility comes before honor (Proverbs 18:12) and what an honor it is to serve in the Lord's army and become victorious soldiers!
Does this illustration resonate with you as a conservative Christian? In this time of self-quarantine, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing, are you moving about spiritually with the kind of soaring freedom Paul enjoyed while imprisoned? While the world dons on face masks and applies hand sanitizers, are you taking the time to get fully dressed each day in the full armor of God? We are soldiers in God's mighty army and, today, we have a spiritual battle to fight AND win. Are you ready?
"Peace of Mind" by Ruxandra Ionce
The morning after Daniel was thrown into the lions' den for not obeying a decree to worship a human god and worshiping the one, true God anyway, King Darius rushed to him and called for his name in the hope he would still be alive.
Daniel answered: “May the king live forever! My God sent His angel, and He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty” (Daniel 6:21-22).
In our everyday life we are surrounded by lions: persecution, opposition, sickness, insecurity, worries, doubts, fears - just to name a few. These lions oftentimes frighten us by mere sight, not because they attack us. We all worry over life's "what ifs" as it lies deep in our human nature to always assume the worse and fear not that which is reality but what our imagination produces. Many neuroscientists today claim that fear is a learned behavior, something we are not born with but, unfortunately, acquire throughout our growing years.
Fear is not natural for the Christian. It is true that fear plays an important role in keeping us away from danger and acting in a preservative manner. However it is not a place of residence. The perfect love of our Father casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and allows our minds to be filled with a peace that transcends all reason (Philippians 4:7). If we trust God's promises for us, we will finally be able to see that God is in complete control of the lions in our dens and we can have rest while enjoying the gift of life. The lions will always be around, but most of them may be tamed and may not even care about our presence. Our Heavenly Father is always in control!
Does this illustration resonate with you as a conservative Christian? What den has life presently thrown you into? Which lions do you see surrounding you? Do you take comfort in the fact that there is a Greater Lion in the den with you and within you? One who can shut up the mouths of other, lesser, earthly lions and deliver you to safety?
"Your Youth is Renewed Like the Eagle's" by Ruxandra Ionce
Jesus answered the Pharisees with the words: “indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Through the Holy Spirit, we, as Christians, are in continuous communion with our heavenly Father, who is above the space-time limitation humanity is confined in. Therefore we already transcend this space and time when we fully submit to God and obey His commands. We have already started to experience the eternal reality, knowing that the “inward man is renewed every day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Just like the eagles (creatures we always associate with power and courage), God renews our youth, our vigor, and our strength so that we “will run and not grow weary”; we “will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Even our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit, will function well and regain good health when we abide in God's laws.
Just like the eagles, we are not bound to, nor restricted by, earthly things. We are always above circumstances, soaring on the wings of faith towards the Sun of our salvation. The victory was given, the work has been finished. Choose to proclaim these things in Christ every minute of the day! Choose to rely on Christ and you will “soar on wings like eagles” and be a victor. Choose to rely on yourself and you will be held down to the ground by the natural gravity of worry, sin, and the desires of the world.
Does this illustration resonate with you as a conservative Christian? In what ways do you need to experience God's renewal in your life? How can you resolve to choose Christ and rest in Christ above worry, above ambition, above desires, above circumstances?
"The Fight of the Righteous" by Ruxandra Ionce
This illustration is a visual representation of the passage from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, which so clearly portrays the Christian in the arena of life:
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
We look at the world around us and at our own lives and we cannot help but feel the frustration and revolt to a cruel reality: whatever is good, noble, and righteous are aggressively attacked from all sides and we feel disabled and incapable of changing anything. Exactly like the lion surrounded by vicious jackals, we feel surrounded and close to capitulation.
We can so easily give up hope and think that evil will prevail. But we know, no matter what our emotions might lead us to think, that we are never destroyed and never forsaken. When we are in complete darkness, we have the light of the Logos! We do not walk by sight but by faith, for sight can only show us a hopeless reality, but faith shows us the ultimate reality of eternity and victory in Christ! We have the Holy Spirit, we have the armor, and we have a way out!
Does this illustration resonate with you as a conservative Christian? In what ways have you felt afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struct down? How have you persisted in the battle and continued in the fight for God's glory?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
"Vigil" by Ruxandra Ionce
“Vigil is supposed to be an allegorical interpretation of Christian endurance, resilience and strength. The ruins in the background represent the church history and the great cultures build on Christian foundations- despite their monumental beauty and grandeur they unfortunately come to pass but the lion represents the real Christian- strong, powerful, obedient and vigilant. He is immovable, steadfast and humble- recognising that everything is given from above for a purpose. The door in the back can be interpreted in a number of ways - one way being a gesture towards continuity: the church still continues to exist and is always open despite division, despite secularism, and despite persecution.”
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