Pastor Jim Mann
I recently read Oscar Wilde’s famous book, The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is the story of an exceptionally handsome young man who sits for an artist who paints his portrait. The artist believes that he’s never seen a more pure and attractive person and proceeds to capture this young man’s beauty on canvas. When Dorian Gray saw the work he makes the wish that he would always look that way.
He received his wish. But the young man led a life of sensuality, selfishness, hedonism and even murder. Every time he committed evil though, his physical appearance never changed…the painting did. The more wicked he became, the more hideous the painting became…so he hid the picture and continued his wicked ways.
One day, the painter found the painting; he saw the ugly consequences of sin on his artwork. He understood what it meant and begged Dorian to seek forgiveness from God. “Does it not say somewhere,” he pleaded, “‘Come now let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be white as wool?’” Dorian, in a fit of rage, murdered him.
The story ends as Dorian Gray can no longer stand the prophetic indictment of the painting, so he decides to destroy it. Though he himself looks pure and clean, he knows the painting reveals the state of his soul. So he takes the knife and slashes it. Immediately the painting returned to its beautiful state and Dorian himself lay on the floor, stabbed to death, unrecognizably hideous to the servants that found him later.
The central question of the book is the same question asked many times in the prophetic books of the Old Testament: Can a society live with complete disregard for moral and spiritual truth and not suffer the consequences of wickedness? It is a powerful picture. It is a question worth asking.
This was the question that came to mind as Jeremiah watched a potter form a jar on a wheel, “But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.” (Jeremiah 18:4, HCSB)
The potter in that picture is God. The clay was Israel (Jer. 18:5). This is good news for any nation that sits spinning on the Potter’s wheel. God shapes and forms us. But sometimes we resist and the jar becomes flawed. God doesn’t discard us. The potter doesn’t angrily kick the wheel aside. If the nation will return to him (Jer. 18:8), He simply starts over again.
He wants that for our country and for you and me too. Return to Him and let the artist make something beautiful and useful of your life.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit New Life’s website: www. NewLifeDenton.org for more information.