Two Sides of the Christian Life

Portrait of Emy, 1919 by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

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Portrait of Emy

This painting is a modern portrait of a woman named Emy. My first sight of this painting made me smile. This is how I probably look at the end of a long week! But, what drew me to this picture is something I see that illustrates an important truth for Christians even though I'm quite sure the artist had no thoughts in this direction.

You see it best if you cover the right side of Emy's face. It's a picture of a thoughtful, kindly and humble person. But if you cover the left side of her face you see an Emy with her eyes wide open to her surroundings. The yellow and orange colors on this side of her face speak of action, alertness and watchfulness.

Every Christian is to live a life of love and humility towards God and men, letting Jesus Christ continue to live his life through us. Yet at the same time we are to walk in this world with our eyes wide open to the snares of our enemy. Jesus said that we are to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. ( Matthew 10:16)

There are three main snares for all of us that are Christians. There's the snare of outright sin -- willfully choosing to go and do the opposite of God's will. Then there's the snare of independence -- which is living your life as you think best while giving God a nod on Sunday. Finally there is the snare of this world -- wanting the good gifts of God more than the Giver of those gifts.

Jesus commands us to watch and pray at all times so that we will not fall into these traps. The apostle Peter counsels us to do the same. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

When Nehemiah and the Jewish people were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem they worked with one hand while the other hand held a weapon. They steadily worked while always on guard. We too must steadily live a life devoted to God while always on guard against our enemy, Satan, who prowls around like a lion seeking for someone to devour.

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