The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’
(Jeremiah 18:1-11 ESV)
It is hard to be art. Think about it. You spend your entire life hanging on a wall or sitting on a pedestal or something. And unless you are really profound, like Michaelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or about 2,000 other pieces universally accepted as great art, you don’t even get viewed very often. Worse than that, when they do view you, are all the comments. There have been volumes written about some pieces of art that take apart both the art and the artist in the most minute detail.
Every morning when I get up, I come down the stairs and let the dogs out. After that, I place a filter in the coffee maker, measure six tablespoons of coffee, and pour water into the reservoir. Then I reach up and grab the same cup out of the cabinet. It is mostly dark blue with muddy green highlights in it, and was a souvenir I picked up in Ireland when our family was there some years ago. I met the potter, who was presiding over a little display in a kind of a shack at the end of a road outside of Limerick somewhere. But I don’t remember his name, or even if it was a him or a her. I just like the cup. It is balanced right for me. It holds the right amount of coffee for me. It is comforting to know that when the coffee is ready this cup will be there for me to use. I never analyze the cup or critique its beauty. I just use the cup because I love it.
Rich Mullins (1955-1998), introducing a song to an audience, said, “I remember one thing that Picasso once said. He said that good taste was the enemy of great art. Good taste has all to do with being cultured and being refined, and if art has to do with anything it has to do with being human.
When I was a kid people would go around saying, “Cheer up kid, God loves you.” And I’d always say, “Big deal, God loves everybody. That don’t make me special. That just proves that God ain’t got no taste.” And I don’t think he does. Because God takes the junk of our lives, and he makes the greatest art in the world out of it. If he was cultured; if he was as civilized as most Christian people wish he was, he would be useless to Christianity.”
Theologians are the art critics of religion. We put God up on a wall and write volumes and preach sermons about every nuance of what we think we see in him. And so we take drain all the life out of knowing him. I don’t think God analyzes us that way. And I don’t think some of us qualify as great art and other merely as art. I think the wonder is God takes the same cup down off the shelf every morning and pours himself a cup of coffee and uses me.