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Christianity’s Verbal Bias

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bible … and I love the way that words have given us insight into our history as a people of faith.  For example, the Nestorian Tablet which is the first evidence of Chrisitainity in China, gives us this information precisely becuse the words inscribed on the tablet tell us about the “Luminous Religion” which came to China around 700AD.  However, it really bothers me as an artist how Christians, especially Protestant Christians, have such a verbal bias when it comes to understanding and knowing God now. We often speak of how God communicates to us using words that denote speech.  For example, asking people “What is God saying to you?” or “Listen to what God speaks to your heart.”  We rarely use visual metaphors, or any other ways of speaking about how God communicates with people apart from metaphors for speech.  In my way of looking at things, you get what you expect.  If you think God only “speaks” when He wants to communicate with us, we will not be expecting to perceive God “speaking” to us through our eyes, lips, bodies, etc.

Top of Nestorian Tablet

If we are trying to perceive what God is revealing to us, but only are expecting words, we may miss God altogether.

What if God is showing us His presence and we are not looking?

What if we are to “taste and see that the Lord is good”, but we never think of the ability to taste as a way to sense the presence of God?

If we believe ourselves incapable of drumming a rhythm, keeping a beat with our feet or hands, or moving to music … we may miss out on dancing with God.

What if God is trying to get our attention … and we are so busy reading and talking, that we don’t even notice Him.

I want to challenge the Christian community to intentionally broaden the way we think of God communicating with us.  Instead of saying, “What is God saying to you lately”, maybe we should more correctly say, “What is God revealing to you lately.”  We should challenge each other not only to perceive what God not only “says” to us, but also what He “shows” us.  We should not emphasise “listening” to God over “learning to perceive” or “communing” with God.  We should challenge each other to make part of our devotional habits to be partly reading scripture and speaking prayers, but also to know God by making art, music, poetry, dance … and by learning to perceive God by being attentive to God wherever we are.

As an artist, I want to prech with the language of paint.

As a drummer, I want to evangalize with God’s gift of rhythm.

As a pianist, I want my sermon to be one of energy and melody.

As a person, I want to be known by God, know God, and help others to know God.

I just wanted you to know.