Impressionism: A Beautiful Painting, A Grotesque Life

My absolute favorite style of painting is Impressionism, which developed in Paris during the 19th century. The invention of the photograph threatened to leave many painters penniless, since the camera was able to capture any image more realistically than a painter could do on canvas. Finally, several Parisian artists simply gave up on trying to compete with the photograph and instead painted with short, tiny brushstrokes. The result was a hazy image which gave only a vague impression of the subject being portrayed. It was beautiful, it was artistic, and best of all – cameras couldn’t do it!

The name “Impressionism” comes from Monet’s famous painting, Impression: Sunrise, which a local art critic tore to pieces, claiming that he was truly “impressed” by the elementary brush strokes and the simplicity of the image. Despite this critic’s stinging review, the public fell in love with the mystery and romance of Impressionist painting.

Impression: Sunrise – Claude Monet

Monet Sunrise

Some Impressionist works are so hazy that it would be nearly impossible to identify the subject matter if it weren’t for the title. One example is Monet’s work entitled, Houses of Parliament , Sunset.

Houses of Parliament, Sunset – Claude Monet

Monet - Houses of Parliament, Sunset

Personally, I love this style of painting because it leaves room for the imagination. But beware! While the vague, Impressionistic style makes for a gorgeous painting, allowing this concept to bleed over into our daily living can lead to a life that is – in a word – pretty grotesque.

The Problem with Impressionistic Living

One of the most unfortunate developments of our time is that standing for clear, solid principles has become old fashioned and out of date. Now it is far more popular to doubt everything, and to take pride in our doubts, walking through life in an incomprehensible fog.

And don’t think for a second that Christians are immune to this! Many Christians refuse to stand for godly principles and boldly proclaim the truths of God’s Word, settling instead for a “quiet, subtle witness.” Translation: they hope to do a few good things so that, if their lost friends are really paying attention, they might just see enough of some vague impression of Christ to start asking questions.

But not only does this fall short of the way we have been called to live, it stands in direct disobedience to Scripture!

Notice what the Faithful and True Witness (Jesus Christ), says to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:16:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Ouch. I don’t know about you, but when I reach the end of life’s journey and meet Jesus face to face, I want him to say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant!”, not “The way you lived your life was so vague, you remind me of yesterday morning’s coffee or Dr. Pepper that has been left sitting out in the sun…I find you disgusting!”

In Luke 10:27, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind! No matter how “hip” it is to relate to large audiences by sharing stories of our self-doubt and having a testimony that is so fuzzy almost anyone can relate to it, compared to what Christ is looking for here, that lifestyle just doesn’t cut it!

We need to stop giving the world tiny, elementary pictures of what Christianity should look like, leaving them to fill in the blanks. No, we need to live passionately for Christ, allowing our life to show Him to the world in broad, clear strokes!

Try asking yourself these questions:

1.)    What do I really believe in?

2.)    What is my life all about?

If you’re having trouble coming up with an immediate answer, then you can be sure your friends and neighbors are seeing an even hazier picture.

And that, my friends, is the way to live a truly disgusting life.

5 thoughts on “Impressionism: A Beautiful Painting, A Grotesque Life

  1. Lukewarm faith serves no one. Such a great inspirational post! Thanks for the motivation John! 😃😃


    1. So true, Kate! And yet we’re constantly being pressured to stop being “extreme” and just blend in with the crowd. If the general public had its way, we’d all become lukewarm Christians – something to think about!


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