A Little Gloss
By Anthony Casperson

Painting miniatures for board games is a hobby for quite a few people. Me included.

Over recent months, I’ve been working on painting the (rather large) miniatures for one game in particular. And I’d begun painting the terrain pieces a few weeks ago. I’d thought that I would finish them last weekend as I applied a coat of very thin paint/dye called a “wash.”

This specific type of paint is applied to simulate shading on the figure. It’s meant to pool in the recesses of the miniature to leave a slightly darker hue of color. Trust me, I never like the look of my painting until after the wash has dried. This simple step makes an okay paint job look amazing.

But that also means that I use this soft tone wash for almost every mini I paint. And a bottle’s worth only goes so far. So, I decided to buy a small paint can’s worth of this wash. Called by the same name. From the same company. It should be the exact same thing. Just more of it.

When I opened the can—for the very first time—to use it on these terrain pieces, it had a different appearance than the wash in the bottle. (And that “you should really be in a well-ventilated area” type of smell that the mini paints don’t usually have.) But I figured that it might just be something about being in a can instead of a plastic bottle that made the difference. I also let slide the fact that this supposed-to-be-thin wash had a thick globby mass at the bottom when I stirred it up.

I questioned the whole thing, but figured that something called by the same name from the same company should be the same thing. And so, used it for every piece of terrain from the game. (Six stone walls, five trees, and two houses.) Then, left it to dry overnight.

The next day, I went down to my basement only to be met with pieces that looked like an ice storm had hit them. There was a glossy shine on the minis that reflected every ray of light that dared come close to touching them. Like they’d slip out of your hand if you tried to pick them up.

I was devastated at the loss of what I’d worked hard to accomplish. They were ruined.

The best that I can figure, that gooey glob on the bottom of the can was an accidental introduction of a gloss varnish that wasn’t meant to be in the wash. But that little bit of gloss shined up the whole mini.

A small amount of what shouldn’t have been included not only ruined the purpose of what it had been added to, but also ruined anything that it was applied to.

This thought directed my mind to similar issues when it comes to the spiritual lives of we followers of Jesus. The typical Christian way of saying this idea comes from 1 Corinthians 5:6. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (But I have to admit that “a little gloss shines up the whole mini” feels more personally understood to me.)

Specifically to the Corinthians, Paul’s statement of a little leaven leavening the whole lump is meant to relate to how the followers of Jesus not only allowed a man who slept with his stepmom to remain in good standing as a member of the church, but also considered it to be a good thing that he performed this act. It’s like they were cheering on this guy for his “sexual prowess” when even the non-Christian citizens of Rome would’ve look at the situation with disgust. (I talk more about this in my sermon from about 6 months ago in the series that finishes up today.)

However, the concept of allowing a little bit of sin into our lives—or not speaking to the dangers of such sins in the lives of others—goes beyond just this specific sin from Corinth. The fact that Jesus speaks of the leaven of the Pharisees tells us this much. (There, the sin was hypocrisy.)

This leaven—or bit of gloss varnish—can be any sin or misapplication of theological thought that leads us away from the beauty that God has for us. Actions or lies that give us “permission” to act in whatever way we want might look good at first, but time will reveal that it has left only ruin.

And the thing about this leaven is that it might seem to be from God—even endorsed by people who claim the same name of Jesus, or use the same words—but it’s not what’s being advertised. That small glob that seemed so innocuous is the very thing that will ruin what was meant for beauty.

We can excuse it. Or think that this must just be the way of things in this specific case. But the end result will always reveal the ruinous truth.

A little gloss shines up the whole mini.

But even after the introduction of ruinous additions, there is still a possibility of restoration. The point of Paul’s words to the Corinthians about that man who should have been judged as sinful was not to condemn the man forever. Rather, it was in the hope that he might realize his sinfulness and seek repentance. There remains the ability to remove the leaven from the lump of we followers of Jesus. Unlike, if we keep the leavening metaphor, the yeasty mess that would happen in bread dough and can’t be fixed.

We followers of Jesus might fall into sin or have faulty theological perspectives from time to time, but the purpose in pointing out the errors is always for the call to repentance. That beauty might be restored.

But the thing is that it takes time and effort to remove ourselves from that ruinous application. And to de-gloss the mini.

I had to do some research in how to remove the glossy sheen from my minis. And though a quick Google search could provide a multitude of answers, many ran the risk of ruining the thing even worse. And some provided answers that seemed to be the exact opposite as others. So, I needed to find a consistent answer that was proven a good way to restore the beauty of the paint job. (Ultimately, it took a generous layering of a matte varnish to fix the issue.)

And the same type of thing is true in our spiritual lives as well. A deep dive into the truth of God can show us the answers of what needs to happen for the leaven to be removed. And then restoration can happen.

Beauty restored after a ruinous layering of application. But only after we discover the means of fixing it.

It’s better to not add the gloss varnish to the wash. But if we find ourselves in that situation with regard to our spiritual lives, there is a way to remove the sheen. And what it takes is finding the matte varnish of repentance.

The miniatures I've been painting (including the fixed terrain).