One day, not very long ago, my grandson Asher was in preschool coloring a picture. As he pushed the crayon across the page he announced, “Jesus never colored outside the lines.” A few moments later, having thought more about his theological proposition he added, “But He probably never colored.” To which a second boy responded, “But if Jesus did color he would have colored inside the lines.” The seed of this preschool theological discussion was planted during a time Asher was struggling with his own imperfections and mistakes. I find it amazing that a four almost five-year-old can understand Jesus’ character better than many adults.
Looking back at Jesus and the Gospels it is clear that some, if not many, thought Jesus was coloring outside the lines. Healing on the Sabbath – outside the lines, forgiving with just a word – outside the lines, touching a leper – outside the lines, challenging the temple marketplace – outside the lines, declaring himself to be the Son of God – way outside the lines. But, Jesus was coloring inside the lines. Instead of following the lines of peers, society, or religion He colored inside the lines that the Father drew for Him. John’s Gospel put it this way – “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:18–19, NASB95) In other words, Jesus perfectly colored inside the lines provided to Him by God the Father.
The question we each should ask is: Who drew the picture that we are coloring with the crayons of our lives? We could be coloring a picture of our own making. We might be coloring inside lines created by others, peers, culture, society, media, or leaders. We should be coloring inside the lines revealed by God and His Word. Some, however, brazenly color outside the lines God has provided which brings us back to the first possibility of self. But here’s the tricky part, the religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought they were right, that they were coloring the picture drawn by God through Moses. According to Jesus, they were only coloring half the picture. Jesus warned them,““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” (Matthew 23:25–26, NASB95) Likewise today, there are many voices proclaiming to have the right picture. Many of these wrong pictures are based on hope or tradition, while others blatantly twist God’s revealed picture for their own purposes. Often they err by emphasizing one aspect of God’s nature while ignoring another, more inconvenient, part. Such as emphasizing God’s love while ignoring God’s justice. As for me, I want to know and follow God as He is, not as I might wish, hope, or imagine He is. The writer of Hebrews encouraged, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us…” For some reason when I read this I imagine Jesus hanging my poorly colored picture on His heavenly refrigerator. Continuing with Hebrews, “ let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1–3, NASB95) So, who drew the picture that you are coloring with the crayons of your life?