You may be familiar with Thomas Kinkade, “The Painter of Light,” as he was called during his lifetime. Kinkade’s work certainly displays the reason he achieved such a title and reputation, as his painting of beautiful scenes radiate a luminescent quality particularly appealing to most people. We have several Kinkade works in our home, and I never tire of looking at them and being drawn into the mood and atmosphere they depict.
Sadly, Thomas Kinkade died recently of complications related to alcoholism. A professing believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, Kincaid failed to heed the warning of the Apostle Paul to Christians included in the epistle to the Romans:
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14).
Again, note that Paul addresses this admonition to believers. Therefore, while I have no way of knowing if Kinkade’s profession of Christ was genuine, I am aware that it is possible he may have truly known the Lord Jesus despite the ignoble nature of his departure from the world. Thus, “the Painter of Light” may have failed to “put on the armor of light” that would have caused his life to reflect the theme of his art.
I intend by this no criticism of Thomas Kinkade. He answers to the Lord, as do we all. I would, however, remind us that our saving faith in the Lord Jesus does not guarantee that we will honor Him in how we live, and how we die. Paul would not command Christians to “walk in the light” and to “cast off the works of darkness” if it were not possible for our lives to be characterized by “rioting and drunkenness… chambering and wantonness…strife and envying” (Ephesians 5:8). Certainly, no such behavior should characterize believers in the Lord Jesus. Nevertheless, such lapses of faith, obedience and godliness can happen to the sons and daughters of God despite the abundance of God’s presence and power freely provided in Christ.
Well into Paul’s life and ministry, he expressed concern as to whether he would finish well. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27). The Apostle’s concern did not involve salvation and the gift of eternal life provided freely in Christ. “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (II Timothy 1:12). Paul did know, however, that he could stumble along the path of righteousness in such a serious way that he would no longer be useful to God for life and ministry (this did not happen, of course, as his joyful confession - “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith!” - rings forth from his final words to Timothy (II Timothy 4:7). Thus, the Paul kept His body under submission by the power of the Holy Spirit, and remembrance of the Lord to whom he belonged.
The Painter of Light may well have been a child of the light who failed to “put on the armor of light.” If so, Thomas Kinkade would encourage and challenge us to avoid the sad path that early ended his life, and more importantly, that kept him from honoring his Lord in both life and death. I hope that we shall see him in Heaven. And I hope that we shall all arrive there, having finished our course by the example rather of Paul, the Apostle of Light.
“Now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”