Today, I am reminded of a statement by Bernstein: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before”
This is a deeper statement than I once realized. This is how we care for our culture. This is how we bring the Kingdom to earth-creating beauty through brokenness.
Though I think artists have a special role in this, it surely applies to all humans. To quote Van Gogh, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people”. Christ is the ultimate Artist, who laid down His life in order to make beautiful beings out of dust. Does He then invite these new creations (us) to join Him in bringing the new earth through love and beauty? Should we follow His example in laying down our lives and seeking to transform through love?
We drive out hate with love. We drive out despair with hope. At the same time, though, does despair drive us into hope? Does hate drive us into love? In other words, does violence and suffering play a role in ultimately bringing an earth where death has lost its sting? When we show hope in the face of suffering, we are playing a part in defeating evil. In this way, we are being more than conquerers because we reveal that evil will be used for the opposite reason Satan intends it. It will be used for good. Likewise, when violence drives us to bring more beauty into the world, are we playing a role in bringing the new earth? A new earth where joy and beauty are the main themes. Will we look back and see it was violence that drove us to bring more and more of these themes into the world until that beauty eventually overcame and left no room for hate?
I don’t claim to know even half the reason God allows all that He does. All I have to stand on is what lies at the heart of reality: the cross. It is at the cross that joy and sorrow meet. Though we don’t know all the reasons for suffering, when we look to the cross we know what suffering surely cannot mean: it cannot mean that God doesn’t love us. I look forward to the day when the final surge of Love comes and hate no longer has a place. I look forward to the day when I no longer have to wade through ashes to find true beauty. What is fallen will fade into a memory, as if waking from a dream. The Lord will shine in all purity against that memory of darkness and we will see it all had great purpose. Our songs will fill the air as we remember that true power was found in powerlessness. We will shout and dance as we remember how true beauty was found in the Man who laid down His life for us, the ones written in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
Even in heaven our songs will have blood stains on them.