“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Untitled Masterpiece, by Randall D. Kittle

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As I was praying, I saw a large building, which looked like the Chicago Art Institute only at each side of the entrance instead of the famous lion statues there were statues of angels. Above the large entrance, carved into the stone was a sculpture of an enormous lion and below this was written, “The Works of the Master.”

I walked into an immense room filled with scores of beautiful paintings. The first painting I saw was the Mona Lisa; the next painting was the Blue Boy. The third painting I came up to had a large beautiful pond with lily pads in it. As I looked at the soft but bright colors, I recognized that it had been painted by Monet. As I pressed in close to the picture, I could see a small plaque under the painting, which had the title and in parentheses in letters almost too small to read it said (Monet).

Somewhat puzzled, I looked about the room and realized it was filled with the greatest works of art from throughout history. There were paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, and many others. Famous sculptures like “The Statue of David” and “The Thinker” were scattered here and there. As I looked across the room, I saw a somewhat older, distinguished gentleman who seemed to be in charge. I went up to him and asked why the titles were so small (why the artist's names were so tiny as to make them practically unreadable), and why the works of various artists were being shown as the works of one master.

The Master’s Tools
He turned to me calmly, as if he had answered these questions a thousand times before, and answered: “All of these works are from the Great Master. It is true that different people were used to bring about these expressions, but the artists were merely the tools, the instrument, through which the Master chose to bring His expression. Just as an artist may choose chalk or oils or water colors, they may paint with fine or broad strokes, the Master uses different ones to express different things. You focus on the person through whom it comes, but in every case it is the Master simply choosing the means by which to express His creativity in the work of art.”

“The titles are small because they are not important. In fact, they are more of a distraction and a limitation than a benefit.” The gentleman then took me over to a large painting and continued: “This picture is entitled ‘Waterfall.’ What do you think?”

As I looked at it, I explained to my host how impressed I was by the breathtaking beauty and power captured in the painting. “Yes, how true,” he said “but did you notice these birds nesting here in this tree. Or did you notice the graceful field of flowers blowing in the breeze?” I shook my head and again looked afresh upon the painting. I was surprised by the depth of beauty I had not seen when I had only focused on the waterfall.

The Great Masterpiece
Just then, the gentleman said to me, “And now, I will show you the Master's great masterpiece. Its beauty far exceeds all of these works put together.” I followed him into another room expecting to see an enormous work of art. At first I was perplexed by the relatively small size of the art work — perhaps only six feet high and less than three feet in width. Along the border were beautiful scenes: majestic mountains, lush valleys, serene beaches, barren deserts, silent glaciers, beautiful sunsets, starry skies, forests, rivers, oceans — so much that it seemed to overwhelm my senses and I had to close my eyes so as not to faint.

When I reopened my eyes, I noticed the border created an outline of a person, and the inside of this outline contained far more than was along the border. In the middle there were fields of butterflies, which were shining like jewels; flags and banners that seemed to be waving; musical instruments and notes, which seemed to jump right off the canvas and dance. Toward the top was an area where colors ran together making new colors I had never even imagined before. Another area was filled with clouds with bright sunbeams piercing through. At the sides of the painting were architectural wonders: cities and towers, castles and cathedrals — buildings of great beauty and strength. Near the bottom there were areas of fire, steam, lightning, and great explosions. There was so much going on that I felt as if I was being drawn into this painting.

Untitled Masterpiece
As I pulled myself back and regained my senses I asked my host what this great wonder was called. “The masterpiece is untitled, for no title could ever hold all of its beauty. It is fashioned in the Master's own image, and as such is nearly a self-portrait of the Master Himself.”

You are the great crowning masterpiece of God’s creation — formed and fashioned in His image. No title you could ever earn or be given could ever express the fullness of all God has put into you. And God doesn’t want anything to distract or diminish your destiny. This is why Jesus spoke so strongly against the use of titles. He wants all that He's put into each one of us to have the freedom to flow unhindered. Jesus wants
“a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9). And He knows that titles tend to lift up a few and bring separation to His flock.

In Jesus’ criticism of the scribes, contained Matthew 23, He speaks disapprovingly of their fondness for honorary titles:
“they love … salutations in the market places, and to be called rabbi by men” (Matthew 23:7). Then He turns to His disciples and tells them not to be like that: “you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8). “Rabbi” was not a negative word. It is a term of respect given by a Jewish disciple to his teacher, and a wellknown teacher would be known to the public as Rabbi Soandso.

Jesus told His disciples, refuse the use of titles in the Church: you are all brothers, you are all members of one family. Members of a family do not address one another by formal titles … even if they indicate high distinction. If my brother Dan was to be knighted by the Queen of England, I would not start referring to him as “Sir Dan.” Others might, but he is my brother and I would just call him Dan.

Much of the Protestant Church looks disparagingly upon the Roman Catholic Church for referring to their ministers as “father.” After all, Jesus said,
“Do not call anyone on earth your father …” (Matthew 23:9). And yet, like the Pharisees, we uphold the letter of the law while violating the spirit of it. Titles, such as pastor, reverend, bishop, prophet, ad nauseam fill our churches. Reading the ads in many Christian magazines will show you how frighteningly far from Jesus’ teaching we have strayed. Everybody’s got a title. Some have three or four!

Even in our local churches we fail to follow the Lord’s teaching. Someone may be called to the office of pastor, and actively be pastoring the flock, but that doesn't mean we are to call them Pastor So-and-so. Do you call the plumber in your congregation “Plumber Bob,” or the accountant, “Accountant Dave?”

One of the reasons we use titles is to honor those who serve God and the body of Christ! It is far easier to honor someone with our tongue than it is to truly honor them in truth and deed. When we focus on the person and honor them with titles, we also tend to forget that it is God who is speaking His words through the one with the prophetic gift, that it is God shepherding His people through the one with the pastoral gift, etc.

What the world wants to do is their business, but the Church is called to be a family — brothers and sisters of the same spiritual house. Not calling each other by the title “Brother” and “Sister,” but actually caring for each other like a family.


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