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We need artists in our community. Those who are willing to take risks and be vulnerable in order to convey the truth in their vision. Those who are willing to be misunderstood, yet willing to wait in the process until their vision can be seen by others.

As members in the audience, we watch the artist with intrigue. We do not see the clarity of vision and we are distracted by the flair of the brush strokes or the splatter of the paint. As the piece progresses, we are trying to fit the piece into our preconceptions. It is not until the artist completely turns our perspective upside down that we are able to see what they have been able to see all along– an image that becomes immediately recognizable to us.

Re-watching this video, I can’t help but see God as the greatest artist- not only in his creative ability in Genesis, but in the way that he completely up-ended our expectations and assumptions in the showing his character as a suffering servant. The cross is the ultimate act of miscommunication. God demonstrates his tremendous love for humanity and humanity walks the other way. God is willing to be misunderstood, yet the image cuts through the callous layers to occasionally stir our imaginations. Once the image is rightly understood, the significance of that perspective grows to redeem all other aspects of our being: our thoughts, desires, emotions, and even our imagination and creativity.

Communication about Christ is always a creative process, because the way that I understand- based on my experience, perspective, and inspiration-will always be different from the way that you understand. I cannot force my imagination into your mind, I can only show you the result of what I have created. In turn, you will take my expression and synthesize that into your own perspective.

This is where I believeĀ  the Spirit of God to be active today: in the ability of the gospel to transcend the limitations of my tired formulations, distorted projections, and misconceptions. That the telling of the story of Jesus can be illuminated within the heart/mind/soul/being of another and can transform their imagination to tell another. That the unique perspective of a person can be transformed into a new image of God which will resonate in the re-telling and re-telling and re-telling of the Gospel. That diverse approaches, seemingly random speckling or errant brushstrokes, can come together to share an inspired vision.

As artists uncover those elements of illumination within themselves, they show us the way to bring vision to life and share their perspective with the world. We all need people to show us the way, we had parents who showed us how to eat and speak and ride a bike, teachers showed us how to do long division, mentors show us how to mature throughout our life. Let us follow their lead– whether painters or not– to find new ways to share the inspiration that God has placed in our being.

Who are those in your life who share their vision with you and “show you the way” to sharing your own vision?

What areas of life can you be creative in demonstrating the grace of Christ? (Don’t overthink this question, the canvas for telling the gospel is often in the day-to-day presence of faithfulness in relationship. How can this be your art?)

Michael Shepherd is an editor for GlobalTheology.org. This piece is cross-posted at this personal blog, Life in Tides.

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