Now, I have nothing against vacuum cleaners, I know as much about them as most men, that is very little, I just about know where to find it in the house. But I did not expect to find one in an art gallery. Now you might be thinking, maybe it was left there by some careless cleaner (or janitor as they say in those parts). There was no doubt, however, that this was part of the exhibition. There were two of them in fact, on top of each other in a glass case with light bulbs under each of them (see pic to the right).
I was in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The lower floors are filled with the more modern exhibitions, that is to say they are mostly filled with ordinary objects being passed off as art, and people walking around them deep in thought and seemingly lost in admiration for the brilliance of it all. As I made my way around I couldn't help but feel completely cut off from the whole experience. I didn't get almost any of it. How is this art? Wat does this mean?
I'm aware this sounds like a bit of a rant by an uncultured bumpkin who just completely misunderstood the whole experience. It probably is and with the right explanation I might have understood and actually enjoyed it(although it would take a fair bit of explaining to win any kind of appreciation for a hoover in a box).
What I came away thinking was that I was maybe feeling like some people do when they come to church. Baffled, confused and a bit annoyed at the whole thing. The root of my complaint was that I just didn't understand. I stood looking at a basically blank canvas and wondered how on earth this is occupying space in a prestigious art gallery. I didn't get it and no one was there to explain. Maybe many people who come to church leave feeling the same. There is an atmosphere and language that they just don't get and no one is willing to explain it to them.
It's true that people who are not Christians are blind to the gospel and in a way will never completely 'get it' until they give their lives to Christ. But they should not be made to feel alienated and unwelcome by things that aren't central to proclaiming Christ. We should be striving in all our witness to point people, not to our wonderful sub-culture but to Jesus. Explaining our theological language and explaining that clothes, rituals, musical preferences etc are not fundamental to knowing Jesus.
I thank God that Holywood Baptist isn't like the Museum of Modern Art and pray that it never will be. But if it were an art gallery it should look like this: there would be just one long thin room. On one side there are a row of paintings of arrows pointing toward the far end of the room. On the other side there is the same. At the bottom, where the arrows are pointing, there is one painting. It is of an empty cross, an empty tomb and a Saviour, sitting in the clouds wating to return. That's what we are to do, point people to Christ. Not create a club that only we 'get' and outsiders feel completely alienated from. Let's try, in all of our life to be people who help others understand and ultimately know the truth of Jesus.
(And let the hoover stay where it belongs, in the cleaners cupboard.)