Imagine for a moment, the Mona Lisa with no background in the picture, or maybe the Mona Lisa with a busy New York Street in the background. If that image had been put in that setting I somehow doubt we would honor it with the respect it receives today. Here’s what I’m getting at. Most of the times in our lives we focus on the focus. We spend all of our time making sure that the big things in our lives stand out so that everyone see’s the important central character. However, all the while the background we are painting to go with our message is inconsistent. It’s as if we are painting a picture of the Atlanta Falcons on a basketball court. It just doesn’t make sense.
Background. What kind of foundation are you building on? Have you ever noticed how much background effects the message that you are sending? Here’s an example. I remember one time I went to a concert to hear a local band play. The band put on a great performance yet there was nothing spiritual about them. They sang a mix of country and rock music and had a rather good performance. Yet at the end of the night, the band tuned up and with a rather “free spirited” audience sang “Amazing Grace”. It’s amazing to me just how much the background setting to a song can change it. I shuddered as they sang about something that they had no clue about. Yet, as I’ve continued throughout the years, I’ve found that there are many times in my own life when I’m singing a song that my background doesn’t align with.
Last Sunday Morning Apostle David laid out a list of 9 areas for us to begin pursuing change in. For several months, God has been telling us that we have crossed over, yet the question I must ask is: Are you singing about crossing over with a desert painted in your background? If so, then you are giving lip service to something that you haven’t actually done. If you’ve crossed over there should be some context clues from your background that are painting a picture for the rest of us that you have crossed over.
So how do we know our background and change it? As a graphic designer, I’m constantly working with backgrounds and foreground images. There is one thing that I know; the background has to go first. It’s practically impossible to start with the foreground image and then add the background. This is what I’m getting at, the foundation that you build your life on is what sets your background. If I did a background check on you what would I find? I don’t just mean criminally, but would I find that the way you handle your money, discipline your body, and treat your spouse line up with the foreground image you present with the rest of your life? Or would I find a beautiful foreground image with a background filled with trash and crumbling foundations.
This much I know: without a solid background – a solid foundation – the rest of the picture becomes trash. I don’t care how abstract you get with your art, it all has to have a consistent feel and look. While God may take the trash of your life and turn it into a beautiful work of art, I can promise He will start by painting the background. I dare you to do a background check in your life. Backgrounds are the context of greatness. Without context, your greatness is merely a dabble of paint spilled on the trashy art-board of life.
(First published 10.12.08)