We are not called to be imitators of this world, but of the unseen spiritual
domain, imitators of the unseen Christ dwelling in our hearts. Art can express
this, our corporate identity, as a focal point for unity (Ala. 'gangsta rap' for
gangs) and present to the secular world the distinctives that make the Christian
life and world -view compelling.
Within this purpose, I believe God will
speak to His people and the world through the visual arts by restoring the
"window of art" through which to view the spiritual realm, to reveal the reality
that is unseen.
In the early seventies, during a time of great personal
distress, I was praying, when, quite unexpectedly, the image" The Christ of
Intercession", appeared full and clear in my mind. This was a word from the
Lord, expressed to me as a picture. His hands were holding my praying hands. I
was the distressed soul protected in His arms, as He presented my case to the
Father. This was the reality that I could not see but was the real grounds for
my trust and comfort.
For many years I have resisted the impulse to paint as
suspect, taking my instruction from the void of art, or culture of any sort, in
the little churches I am drawn to. After all, how do you evangelize with a
painting and is not evangelism the only duty to which we should be about?
The answer to that question is still "yes". Evangelism is our high calling.
However, while art cannot evangelize, the word of the Lord does. The picture I
received twenty years ago was a word of the Lord expressed as an image
representing profound, universal longings in each of us. A spiritual vision, or
strong image, side-steps the mind, cutting to visceral responses the mind
prefers to control but cannot.
The visual word given to me, though hardly
novel, speaks that unseen truth, especially unseen by the world. People have
been drawn to the painting, some without knowing that what they felt was the
stirring of their spirits. They have asked me why they felt drawn, and have
wondered why the image continues to captivate them. Of course, it is not the
image but the truth the image personifies, the longing for our creator.
The strength of God's renaissance will be its link to prophetic gifting, not of
merely attracting geniuses to vaunt their skill, but of true inspiration, of
seeing visions and understanding insights, of being able to report those visions
and insights in new and startling ways, to provide windows into spiritual
realities. · Like every endeavor of the Kingdom, the arts of the Kingdom will
find their effectiveness in Christ. This is no cliche' but a realization that
apart from Christ we cannot assault the spiritual darkness of this world. Apart
from Christ, we can only pretend that we are soldiers, marching about boldly
among ourselves, rarely engaging the enemy face to face.
The forces of this world look powerful until, like Elisha's servant at Dothan (2 Kings 6: 8-22) we
are given the spiritual sight to see the "hills full of horses and chariots of
fire all around...". It is my privilege to "paint what I see", and, like you, I
"would see Jesus."
Revelatory Art is nothing new.
In composing "The Messiah", Handel "received" the score by "revelation" from God. Many visual
artists, composers, writers and other artists of the past relied on divine
inspiration and revelation in the production of their work. The spiritual
practice and discipline of stillness and contemplation in order to "hear" from
the unseen realm was a common practice. But this art has been lost. Through the
secularization of our culture, revelatory art has lost its place in the
Christian Culture. It is doubtful if there even is a Christian Culture. And yet,
we believe there is a "Renaissance" of art in which the Spirit of the Living God
wants to breathe it's Life. There are artists who have a desire to say
something, not of themselves, to the church and to the culture at large. There
is something that needs to be said, proclaimed, that no human voice knows how to
express. It is only by Revelation that we are given the language of the Spirit.
Across the land, artists are receiving dreams, visions, words of knowledge and
wisdom that they have been given in order to express, not in the context of a
church setting, through a sermon, nor in a Prophetic Word during a prayer time.
Instead, they are compelled to paint the word, the dream or the vision, they are
led to write lyrics or melodies, even a dance or mime.
Click Art n Soul podcasts to hear more from St.Mark.
Here is an actual recording of an Art N Soul gathering at our church.