The Underbelly Project

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)

I read a story in The New York Times this morning about a group of 103 well-known graffiti artists (or "street artists" as they prefer to be called), who covertly created a gallery of their work on the walls of an abandoned subway station far below the busy streets of New York City. (Read the story.)

The site was discovered by one of the artists when he was led by a friend to a hidden entrance and through a series of dark and dirty passageways into the abandoned section of the city's subway system. The artist was drawn back to the site many times after that initial visit and he eventually led another artist to the site. Together they hatched the idea of an a hidden gallery that would feature the works of the world's most famous street artists and dubbed it The Underbelly Project.

They didn't want to be arrested for defacing public property or worse - be mistaken for terrorists, so they made a careful study of the best times to slip from an active station into the hidden entrance undetected.

Over the next 18 months, they invited artists from all over the world to participate in the project, escorting them, one at a time to their underground studio. Each artist was allowed just one four-hour visit to complete their work. They packed in their supplies and worked in damp and dirty conditions by the light of camping lanterns, then packed everything back out again in the hours just before dawn.

At the completion of the project, the organizers selected a handful of people to view and photograph their work, including the reporter who wrote the story for the Times, but only under the condition that the real names of the artists not be revealed. They wanted their work to be seen, but they also wanted to avoid prosecution.

After their one night showing, they destroyed the entrance to their graffiti gallery, closing it off to the public forever or at least until some other underground explorer discovers another way in.

There is a certain something that drives a rebel to risk arrest, financial liability and physical danger for the thrill of doing something they know they should not be doing.

Isn't that the way it works with the spiritual rebel, too? We know the "rules" we are to live by – the boundaries God has outlined in His Word, but sometimes the temptation to live on the edge of danger seems just too hard to resist.

We act in secrecy, hoping we will not be found out, but God says that nothing is hidden from Him and that everything will be uncovered and laid bare before Him. He says that someday we must give an account for our actions.

So, the next time you feel the rebel in your itching to explore some forbidden place, remember that Jesus came to set us free from the power of temptation and that everything done in secret will eventually come to light. Pray for strength to overcome temptation and you will never have to look over your shoulder wondering when you will be caught.

Prayer: Father, help us to resist the seductive call of sinful behavior. Teach us to walk in the light as you are in the light. Show us how to live so that when the time comes to give an account to you for how we lived our lives, we can hold our heads high. And when we fail...and we know that we will occasionally fail, remind us that you are willing to forgive the sins of a repentant heart. Amen

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

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