A friend of mine has a running joke with me that he is going to turn me in to guitar protective services for abusing my guitars. Yes it’s true that all of my acoustic guitars bear the same scars on the top from years of gigs and worship services. I haven’t been abusive to my instruments intentionally (as I am not playing punk rock at this stage in my life) but I have not left my instruments locked in a closet either—I have used them to make music, to write songs, and to create music with others.
I watched a documentary on a Luthier (guitar maker) by the name of Danny Ferrington who has made guitars for some of the best-known artists in rock and country. At one point in the documentary he showed a picture of a guitar he had made for Johnny Cash. As with most of his guitars it was exquisite in its design and inlay work but the back of the guitar was chewed up and splintered from the constant friction generated by Cash’s belt buckle. Ferrington was asked if he was disappointed in how this masterpiece of a guitar had been treated by Cash. But Ferrington was just happy as a guitar-maker that Johnny Cash had connected with that instrument in such a way that he played it that he played it all the time. In the end Ferrington made the point that no matter how beautifully designed a guitar is by its creator its main purpose is making music—a guitar is meant to be played!
Jesus once compared the life of faith to salt and light. Both salt and light do no good if they are hidden either as a lamp under a bed or salt in a shaker. The truth is that the Pharisees had an exquisite system of complex belief but rather than bringing out the God colors and flavors in the world around them they were just keeping their faith hidden in their own little club like a beautiful instrument that is never taken out of its case.
We are invited by Jesus to join the music of new creation not to simply construct a complex system of beliefs and doctrines that we can take pride in. The reality is that a faith that works to engage life will not make it unscathed anymore than a guitar that is regularly played will retain its original external beauty and yet the true beauty of faith is not in perfectly constructed doctrines but in the song in which it participates.