Principles of Design 3: Dominance

This is the third post in an ongoing series on the principles of design that God, our Designer and Creator used and invites us to use in designing and “creating” our lives. Whether intentional or not, we are always creating—memories, impressions, relationships, patterns of thinking and feeling, and legacies. We discussed previously how God made us to receive, return, and share the overflowing love within the Trinity. Also, as His image-bearers and His redeemed sons and daughters in Christ, we glorify God by shining the Family resemblance.

So, how do we bear God’s image and reflect the Family resemblance when creating, using His principles of design? To answer this question, let us start where the Bible starts, with “In the beginning was the Word…” (Jn 1:1) and “Seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Mt 6:33). Both illustrate the design principle of Dominance. John 1 continues, “…without him nothing was made that has been made.” God dominates, meaning He is first (before and pre-eminent) in all of Creation. All Creation points to God. And as Jesus teaches in Matthew 6, if we make God dominant in our lives, “…all these things will be added onto you.” When God is given full dominance in our lives, our worries fade; we have all we need.

What exactly is this design principle of Dominance? Before a brush is ever dipped in paint, the artist must have an idea, objective, or message to convey. Usually, this message is carried by the dominant feature in the artwork. Dominance is about the focal point, what is first seen, where the eyes and attention are most drawn. The dominant feature is the doorway to the entire work.

What dominates and draws you in?

Dominance implies pre-eminence, authority, sway, influence and control. In art, dominance is emphasis or visual weight, which is often dependent upon contrast. The dominant feature may be larger and darker. Or, it may be unique in shape, color or texture. A dominant feature may also be set apart by surrounding emptiness or whitespace. If nothing is dominant in a piece of art, the viewer may become confused about what is being conveyed; or bored by monotony; or overwhelmed by lots of different elements “yelling” for attention at once.

Too much…

What dominates in your life? Consider the main message you want your life to communicate. What is your focal point or emphasis? What catches and keeps your attention in life? To what dominant feature would a viewer of your life be drawn first? Or, are so many different interests and activities competing for attention that nothing dominates?

Yahweh commanded, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Our triune God is always to be dominant. God Himself is our focal point, the meaning, goal and message of our lives. As Christians, our lives draw attention to God and are the doorway for others to find God. As in the parable of the pearl of great price, we give all we have to live in His Kingdom and dwell in His House. Our entire identity is as God’s children and as living, moving, growing members of the Body of Christ.

God models this concept of dominance. God’s long-suffering love dominates redemption history. Since the beginning, He has loved us. And He seeks always our good, even at the expense of His Son. Jesus told the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son to illustrate God’s intent, loving focus on us. God’s covenant promises and plans for bringing us back into relationship with Himself and each other dominate Scripture. And Jesus showed how to live fully focused on the Father—“The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (Jn 5:19).

From the life and teaching of Christ, we learn that the key to giving God dominance in our lives is keeping our eyes on Him and doing what He does. We give God “visual weight” by giving Him all that we have and are—love, time, and attention. We create “whitespace” around Him by clearing out His competition—money and possessions, addictions and attachments, relationships, and worldly honor and security.

May we emphasize God more and more and let Him dominate our lives more and more. May we turn to God again and again and give Him more attention and more control. Ask God to empower you and lead you in giving Him dominance. Begin to pray and journal with the design principle of Balance, which we will discuss next.

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