The Horse and Gavel: A Charge and Reminder
Editor's note: I wrote this for the Fine Arts staff at Regents School of Austin in our weekly newsletter.
On my desk at home, I have a bronze horse and a wooden gavel. Together, they serve as a charge and reminder for Kingdom work.
SEND THE HORSES
The bronze statue is the Trojan Horse, a reminder of that fateful event in the city of Troy. Thinking this horse was a gift from the gods, the Trojans paraded it into their city walls! But when the sun set and all were asleep, elite Greek warriors slipped from its belly and brought destruction. Stories are Trojan Horses. Through delight and wonder, they slip into our hearts concealing at first what sits in their bellies.
In this we have a call to discernment, but it’s more than that. Jeremiah told the exiles to build houses and plant gardens, to “seek the welfare of the city . . .” (Jeremiah 29:7). Gospel living is both defensive and offensive. What if part of our call in the arts is to send to Babylon our own Trojan Horses: Kingdom stories wrapped in beauty with bellies full of truth and goodness?
FROM OUT OF THE GAVEL
Because Kingdom work is difficult, we turn to the gavel. We stumble, and it’s second nature to let it color our identity, “My labors are a failure. I’m a failure.” The gavel reminds us that something has already been accomplished. Jesus has conquered sin and death, and God has declared us innocent and righteous. But Tim Keller in “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness,” reminds us it’s more than that.
In the heavenly courtroom, God has also declared us significant and valuable, even before we’ve finished our work. The world says we must perform first and that will dictate the verdict of who we are. The gospel swaps it: out of the verdict we labor for the Kingdom. “In Christianity,” Keller explains, “the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family” (40). Verdict first, then performance.
It’s a fresh reminder about our Kingdom labors: if God’s verdict is the only one that matters (39), we can forget ourselves and focus on others. It’s out of the gavel, we send our Horses . . . for the glory of God and the blessing of others.
For more on the gavel, I highly recommend you pick up Tim Keller’s little book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.
Dane Bundy is President of Stage & Story and Director of Fine Arts at Regents School of Austin, a classical Christian school in Austin, TX.