Framed Emptiness

October 5, 2023
Volume 27, Number 27

The Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark had to take legal action. They had paid artist Jens Haaning over $70,000 to recreate two earlier works of art for display in an upcoming exhibition. Haaning agreed, and just before the show premiered, he delivered two framed empty canvases. He appropriately entitled his works, “Take The Money And Run”.

A court in Copenhagen has ruled that Haaning has to return most of the money given to him. He is allowed to keep $5,676 for the “artist’s fee”. That didn’t please the “artist”, however, who claims that he committed no crime and that he did indeed produce works of art.

I think few of us would sympathize with Haaning. Virtually all would understand the contract to mean actually putting something on canvas. (Having seen other examples of “art”, I might prefer the empty canvas to what has often been passed off as artistic.) It doesn’t take much skill to put frames around two canvases; the Kunsten Museum had a right to expect paint to be applied.

Some seem to think that God will accept “religious” activity, regardless of the content. Paul spoke about this problem in Ephesians 5:6,7: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.”

A similar warning is found in Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Though the messages of such people sound sophisticated and wise, there is nothing in them of any value. A steady diet of cotton candy may please the tongue, but it deprives the body of needed nutrients. In the same way, much of what is passed off as religion is nothing more than framed emptiness. It’s an outrage to God, even if the majority of people approve it.

Peter also took a dim view of religious messages devoid of God’s word. Speaking of false teachers he wrote, “These are wells without water, clouds carried about by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (2 Peter 2:17). A cloud carries the promise of needed rainfall, but these clouds pass over without blessings. The wells are dry, with no water at all.

Will you and I tolerate empty frames, or will we demand that those “frames” (religious messages) be filled with truth? The example of the Jews in Berea was recorded for our consideration: “These were more fairminded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Yes, that church worker may be eloquent, and his appearance seems full of love and sincerity. But listen closely and make sure that what they are framing is God’s word, not mere human innovations. The price of accepting such empty frames may be one’s eternal salvation!

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2023, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.