The Power of No

Last year I had the pleasure of attending a live Gungor concert. Do go see them if you ever have the chance.  My husband and I were fortunate enough to have “VIP tickets” that allowed us into the venue early to have a little Q&A with Michael before the show.  As you might expect, the topic of song writing came up and during the discussion he cited a quote from Michelangelo.  It’s said that when asked how the artist created The David he replied, “I simply looked at the marble and cut away everything that wasn’t David.”

Myth though this may be, the idea captivated me. The power of saying “no.”  It’s important both in art and in life.  What Michael Gungor was saying was that in order to write a great song, you not only have to say no to the bad, but you have to cut away even the “good” the “okay” and all the mediocre fluff.  It can be hard to say “no” when you’re creating something, especially when working with other people because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  But cutting away what isn’t the main idea frees you to critique, even yourself, honestly.

There are lots of articles/blog posts out there telling us we need to learn to say no to activities as busy-ness addicted Americans.  Yes it’s true, we have too many soccer games, dance recitals, counsel meetings, and work appointments.  We are too much of a “Yes Culture.”  But I think it goes even deeper than the need to say no to activities.  We are too much of a “Yes Culture” when it comes to ideas.

Enter post-modernism.  The prevailing philosophy of our time is that everyone is right.  We can all have our own truths and live happily together just agreeing to disagree.  But, as with great art, I think we need to be able to cut away what isn’t the main idea of life.  I believe the main idea of life is God – and further than that, the God-man Jesus Christ.

Post-modernism strikes me as a lazy yes-man philosophy for those who would rather not think through what they believe to be true and what they believe to be false. Let’s have the courage to pare away what is false and allow the One truth to shine through. In order to truly know God, you not only have to say no to the bad, but you have to cut away even “good morals,” the “I’m okay the way I am” mindset and all the other mediocre fluff.  It can be hard to say “no,” especially to other people because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  But cutting away what isn’t the main idea of life frees you to critique, even yourself, honestly.  And honestly, you and I both need a savior.

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