Written Art: One Way the Gospel Makes Its Presence Known
September 11, 2014 by Daniel Bell 3 comments
Daniel Bell is our next guest in the "Friends of Redeemer" series. Daniel attends Metro Life Church in Orlando, and can often be found writing and performing spoken word to build up the church and to glorify God. The first part of the series can be found here.
If you step inside a major city, you see art everywhere. You see it on the billboards and the crossing signs; you hear it in the form of music on radio or see it on giant T.V.’s in places like New York City. If you pay attention to those things, they have one thing in common--communication. These mediums of art usually bring a message to the viewer or listener to express something, and I believe that God is on that same mission with expressing His truth. In fact, I would say he has been at it for thousands of years because of the poetic and extensive writings of the books of the Bible. However, we all know that the Bible is a historical collection of documents, so how about today? Does God really care about using written art so much as to share truth to the masses? Should the Gospel of Jesus Christ even be involved in haikus, verses, short stories, long epics and the like? From me, a resounding YES comes to mind.
Recently, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine. We were talking about creativity and how God uses various gifts for people to shine for Him. My friend was hinging on the fact that we humans are created in God’s image, so we are innately meant to reflect the creative one Himself. This was a deep conversation for me because it reminded me that absolutely everything that I can do as a human being is meant to be for God’s glory. Personally, I am a spoken word artist so during that conversation I thought of how God would want to use me in that poetic way. I came to the conclusion that there can be many ways he can use me in that one form of art out of many to display the Gospel. I mean, why not? I have been completely made new by Jesus Christ, all my sins have been dealt with on the cross, and I have been bought by Christ with His blood. Why shouldn’t I write about the Gospel that saved me? The Apostle Paul tells us to do all things unto the glory of God for that same reason. We should do everything unto His glory, even writing, because we are now His.
So far in my life as a Christian, different forms of written art have heavily influenced me. By way of music, I have been impacted by the lyrics of artists like Lecrae, KB (Kevin Burgess), Matthew West and many more Christians who decided that the Gospel is worth proclaiming on the airwaves. I believe artists like these know that the Gospel affects every aspect of their life. You can tell by the lyrics of their songs. I can still recite some of the lyrics that I have heard even from years ago because I have kept them in my heart for so long.
There’s an urban ministry based out of Los Angeles, California called P4CM (Passion For Christ Movement) which has hosted a yearly exhibition of spoken word artists who come up with compelling and transparent pieces that have affected hundreds of people through the Gospel’s effect on their lives. They became popular through the Internet because people were seeing that Jesus could be proclaimed through such a medium, which speaks relevantly to much of today’s culture.
Let’s even go back in history a little bit. Amazing Grace is probably the most beloved hymn ever. There’s a part of the lyrics in the song that reflect the glorious Gospel when it says, “That saved a wretch like me…” The writer, John Newton, experienced God’s grace through the Gospel and wrote about it in the most popular folk hymn ever. To say that there is no room for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be expressed lyrically would be a slap on the face to these artists.
How about in literature? C.S. Lewis wrote a series of books to reflect various aspects of the Christian life through The Chronicles of Narnia, and three of those books were made into movies and shown to the masses. Once being a staunch atheist, Lewis spent much of his literary career writing about the Christian faith in one form or another. It was because of the cross of Christ that he needed his sins to be forgiven, and it was the gospel’s influence that inspired him write the works that he did, that reached so many since they were published. The Gospel changed one of the greatest creative writers from the 20th century, thus impacting the realm of art in multi-faceted ways today.
So again, do I believe that the Gospel can affect the written forms of art? Yes, because history has proven it and people are living out that notion now. Just imagine if all the saints of old and of the present day had developed songs, poems and vast works because of the Gospel-what would the state of the world be today? Imagine the difference of morality, and the love of God being spread amongst the entire world because we have all heard the truth of the Gospel through the limitless medium of written art. People like C.S. Lewis have proven that such a thing can occur, and I believe that such an endeavor would be pleasing in God’s sight, for it would be unto His glory. If the Gospel would change the entire realm of literary art, it would have to do so through every heart that is in that realm. Whether it’s through a kid rapping lyrics he wrote on a napkin at school or a Juilliard student writing lyrics to a new score, the Gospel would have to change that person’s heart before the realm they’re in is truly ruled by the Gospel. All in all, it seems reasonable to me that the Gospel can and should be involved in written art, in all forms, across all generations.
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