Partially painted canvases litter the floor surrounding Rachel Nordeman’s desk. One is an unfinished drawing of a disproportionate anchor; another, an attempt at watercolor wildflowers. Nordeman sits at her desk—cluttered with open paint palettes and empty coffee mugs—and hunches over her latest project: a woodcut with the words “It Is Well” painted in a cursive font. She leans back in her chair and takes a deep breath; Nordeman feels the weight of her entire belief system riding on this painting.
For many Christians, painting began as a leisurely activity. Often, it was used as a time for spiritual reflection, slowly mulling over the words of scripture or a popular worship song. The hobby of some, however, has quickly become the duty of all.
Nordeman, an active member of CrossHopeSkyBridge Bible Church, only just recently received her mission to create. “I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, and I saw that three of my small group friends had posted calligraphy paintings. One of them even painted in the pages of her Bible. Those three photos in a row made me feel like Peter, as if Jesus was asking me three times if I loved Him,” said Nordeman.
Unfortunately, she soon found that she had not yet been given the gift of artistry. Despite prayers for this talent, Nordeman and many other Christians still struggle to live out the socially constructed concept of their religious identity because they lack the ability to paint beautifully enough to take a photograph worthy of instagram sharing.
This is Part 1. To read The New, New Testament, Part 2: We Are One Body: click here.