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COLUMN: The light Of Christ shines in his art

COLUMN: The light Of Christ shines in his art

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Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalms 119:105)

Several years ago, my wife and I stumbled into a gallery while shopping. It was a gallery unlike any we’d ever seen.

If you haven’t taken a trip to one of Thomas Kinkade’s galleries, it’s a must. Every picture hanging on the wall literally glows. For example, neighborhood scenes show light-filled houses that look as if the light inside is real.

The truth is the light is real, at least according to the late Kinkade. He once was quoted in Guidepost saying, “Light exists in the dimension of the spirit. It was what God first created and is probably the most consistent metaphor in all of Scripture. Truth is represented as light, and in Matthew 5:16, Christ affirms that each of us should ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’. But light is something you can’t hold. You can’t touch or taste or pin down its subtle, constantly changing effects. As a painter, light is the essence of what I try to capture on canvas - a light that dispels darkness, that chases away confusion and despair.”

Light isn’t the only message that Kinkade shared in his paintings. He married his childhood sweetheart, Nanette, in 1982. He loved her so much that he hid the letter “N” for Nanette in every painting.

The folks at any one of his commercial galleries will be the first to tell you that if you really want to be sure it’s a Kinkade original, then look for the letter N and make sure it radiates in the darkness. They’ll even turn the lights off to show you what they mean.

Kinkade’s originals glow brighter than his prints. In other words, it’s not hard to recognize the real thing.

Isn’t the same thing true for Jesus? Fannie Crosby, a blind songwriter that penned hundreds of hymns, said she would know him by the prints of the nails in his hands. But, Jesus told us that we would also recognize him by the light as well. “I am the light of the world”, he once said to a group of unbelievers. “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Thomas Kinkade quit college to pursue his lifelong dream to become an artist. As an art student at the University of California at Berkley, he found that his “homespun values were about to clash with twentieth-century intellectualism”. “No one at Berkley seemed to find much merit in my idealistic approach”, he once wrote. “People were creating art around dark or pessimistic themes, exploring tortured inner feelings, childhood pain, and personal insecurities. My fellow students urged me to get in touch with inner demons.”

Kinkade didn’t give up on his dream to show what the difference that the light of the gospel can make. Perhaps we should heed that spiritual truth in our own lives. After all, it was Jesus himself who told us, "You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)

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